Terrence Howard is one of those actors who seemingly can do anything. No matter what the role he intelligently chooses to play he is always phenomenally fine. In Hustle & Flow the writer and director has finally given him a vehicle that allows him more screen time and the opportunity to create a character that burns his image on my memory indelibly.
The story of a pimp and drug dealer in Memphis, stuck in the poverty level and rapidly drowning in mid-life crisis, who pulls himself into the stream of his need and dream to be something different, a rapper star, has been told before but never in the gritty realistic atmospheric way this film does. One of the most telling sequences of both writing and acting is the opening scene of the film when Djay (Howard) quietly talks his philosophy to Nola (Taryn Manning), his primary prostitute, simply sitting in the front seat of his car, awaiting johns.
While Terrence Howard is towering, the supporting cast is superb also. All offer genuine portraits of difficult characters. The smarmy side of Memphis is well captured. This is a fine film, a bit difficult to watch at times because of the bruises of poverty and the depths to which people must descend at times to survive. But the story is good and Terrence Howard is a marvel to watch.