Scorsese’s 1986 sequel to The Hustler may be an entirely different animal from the classic black and white 1968 first film but its snappy and stylish comeback tale proved just as effective a highlight in the latter half of Newman’s celebrated career.After decades-old past events left him compelled to seek a change in careers, once great pool hustler ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson now makes his money selling relabelled liquor to bars and sponsoring upcoming pool players by staking their bets. When he spots Vincent Lauria, a cocky, young upstart who is seemingly unbeatable at the game of nine-ball, it sparks something in Eddie that reminds him of his own youth, and he approaches the kid to help teach him how to be a great pool hustler.Struggling to impress upon Vincent the importance of losing in this particular game, Eddie’s mentorship nonetheless rekindles a passion for the game that he thought was lost. Crafting the sequel novel into a very different tale, Scorsese’s follow-up is an exciting exploration of regrets and ramifications, of youth versus experience; subtly mirroring the events in The Hustler through its rising star Vincent, and opening the eyes of the original’s now-ageing hero towards all the mistakes that he made first time around.
The Colour of Money is shot with Scorsese’s trademark visual panache and adherence to accuracy, the games themselves are outstanding – electric in intensity – and the tension at times unbearable, as the seasoned player and his young protégé face off against myriad contenders, including a few outstanding cameos for the likes of John Turturro and Forest Whitaker.
Cruise himself actually manages to, in this rarest of occasions, take a back seat to the real star – Newman – despite ostensibly playing a rising star through and through. Unlike, for example, his turn opposite Hoffman in Rain Man, Cruise doesn’t even try to compete with Newman here, instead embracing the role as the cocky upstart; one which comes strikingly easy to him.
Strikingly different from the original, Scorsese's sequel nonetheless manages to impress in its own way.
Of course it’s Newman who shines, earning himself a Best Actor Win (whilst Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio earns a Supporting Nomination as Vincent’s smart and sassy girlfriend) and delivering another multi-faceted performance in a role which far expands his character from the original, developing him into a much richer creature who, much like the actor himself, was far from past his prime.
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