When a new person comes into your life in a significant way things inevitably change. If you are lucky, that new person improves your life and your outlook on it. This is what I call the "new-person dynamic" and so many great stories in literature and film are based around this concept. Personally, I have found that this dynamic always proves to be enriching. Everyone brings their own perspective and one can't help but see things differently when exposed to that other perspective. Think about the important people in your life that were introduced to you at one point and how they changed your life afterwards. Now think about your favorite film and how the new-person dynamic was a catalyst for the story. Kind of eye-opening isn't it?
The most interesting part of The Hustler (1961) for me is the love story between Eddie (Paul Newman) and Sarah (Piper Laurie). And no it's not because I'm female and I'd rather see love-dovey scenes than watch people play pool and gamble. Rather, it's because when Sarah is introduced into the story Eddie's character begins to evolve. The film starts off at a very slow and quiet pace and when Sarah and Eddie meet the rest of the film gradually quickens until it reaches it's climax. Without Sarah, Eddie would just be another hustler playing for a big pay-off. With Sarah, we watch Eddie's interactions with her and we start to learn how tortured these two characters are.
My favorite line of dialogue in the movie is spoken by Sarah when Eddie takes Sarah to her apartment and kisses her passionately outside her door. She pulls away from him and says to him, "You're too hungry". They've only known each other for a few hours and already she has discovered Eddie's major weakness and has revealed to us the most important part of Eddie's character. Eddie is a constant state of consumption. He downs JTS Brown (Bourbon Whiskey), he incessantly gambles in pool and he's is constantly striving to be the best hustler. This constant hunger proves to be his downfall. He continues to consume even though it puts his relationship with Sarah at risk.
I'm really very happy I watched this film. I had been avoiding it for years and it took that new-person dynamic in my own life for me to give it a chance. This film happens to be my new beau Carlos' favorite film. Just sensing his enthusiasm about The Hustler and talking to him afterwards about the different themes in the story, enriched my experience with the film. I hope this means I get to watch lots of other movies that have been off my radar but have been on his.