Picks and Pans Review: Hustle & Flow

updated 08/01/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/01/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Terrence Howard, D.J. Quails, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning

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After years of delivering scene-stealing supporting turns, most recently in Crash, Terrence Howard finally gets a chance to carry a film on his own and proves more than up to the task. His charismatic performance in Hustle & Flow, full of quicksilver mood changes and aching need, deserves to be seen even by those not naturally drawn to a movie about a small-time pimp attempting to switch his vocation to hip-hop.

DJay (Howard) makes his living from a trio of hookers, who reside with him in a shabby house in Memphis. He longs, though, to express himself through music. Flow looks at how his dream of making a CD transforms his life and the lives of those around him.

Written and directed by Craig Brewer, this film about a musical wannabe has familiar echoes of Purple Rain and 8 Mile, but its fresh setting and Howard's forceful acting turn it into something special. (R)

DRAMA

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