Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Terrence Howard is excellent as a Memphis pimp who wants to break into show business with his own brand of hip hop music. He teams up with an old high school friend (Anthony Anderson) and the two of them start to record tracks in a makeshift home studio, but the rough edges of Howard’s dangerous life keep popping into the picture and threaten to tear him down. Excellent performances highlight an often unpleasant but satisfying story of redemption, with Howard doing an effortless job of carrying the whole thing on his own, supported beautifully by Taryn Manning and Taraji P. Henson as two of his employees. Director Craig Brewer manages to tell a story involving prostitutes, gangsters and drug dealers without ever resorting to self-indulgent imagery or excessive sex and violence. The dark feelings that this story inspires are all emotional instead of visual, and it is all the more resonant afterwards for this quality. It also features a fantastic soundtrack and beautifully gritty cinematography.
Screenplay by Craig Brewer
Cinematography by Amy Vincent
Music by Scott Bomar
Production Design by Keith Brian Burns
Costume Design by Paul A. Simmons Jr.
Film Editing by Billy Fox