“Hustlers” stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B. Released on September 13, 2019, the film is about a group of strippers who decided to steal money from dozens of wealthy men.
The film is written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, who also directed “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” and “The Meddler”. It is based on the New York magazine’s 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler. Going to a strip club can be a fun time for men who want to watch some hot women shake their money-makers…as long as the men don’t bring a butt load of cash with them. This is probably one of the weirdest things that I have ever heard in my entire life, but it’s also one of the most interesting things that I have ever heard. Strippers stealing money from rich people. If that isn’t something that will get people’s attention, I don’t know what will. This fact-based drama is the latest addition to the list of films that define “girls night out” when it comes to the cast and its concept. At first, I was a little bit skeptical about how it will turn out based on the trailer, but then I saw the first couple of good reviews for it and I was like, “OK, now I’m interested”. Based on the great word-of-mouth it’s been getting since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend, it looked like it has the right tools to create an enticing drama that could sneak into the Oscars when all is said and done. But does that mean it’s worth watching for me?
Inspired by the article it’s based on, the film centers on Dorothy (Wu), a young woman who works at a strip club to support her grandmother. She then meets and befriends a veteran stripper named Ramona Vega (Lopez), who teaches her the ways of attracting certain types of customers with successful results. Their success soon comes to an end when the financial crisis hits, leaving them and the rest of the population without enough money to support their own lifestyles. Ramona then comes up with a scheme that involves her and the other strippers getting the rich men drunk and stealing money from their credit cards. What seems to be the perfect plan at first turns out to be more than what they bargained for. This is pretty much the female version of “Magic Mike” with a dose of “crime drama” to boot, so it’s pretty obvious that it isn’t something that you would watch with your child since it has plenty of stripping and adult language (emphasis on the “stripping”). It clearly has “girls night out film” written all over it, but it is also an enticing and thought-provoking drama that showcases the fact that too much of a good thing can lead to consequences. The best part about it was that it never lost sight of making the situation interesting and, more importantly, fun. While the story did suffer a bit from its pacing and its lack of strong emotion, the film was able to provide an intelligent and meaningful portrayal of the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis from a stripper’s perspective. With a style that’s as fun and seductive as the characters and a well-told plot that took advantage of the familiar elements that it stole from the other crime-related dramas, writer/director Lorene Scafaria delivered an experience that offered more than just a bunch of strippers doing erotic dances for less than two hours. The entire cast was great in their roles, with both Wu and Lopez stealing the show as Dorothy and Ramona, respectively. I can easily admit that Lopez delivered a performance that trumps all of her other performances completely, but I think Wu deserves the same amount of recognition as Lopez because of her impressive acting talent. Despite her role being really short, I thought Cardi B had a couple of good moments in her feature film debut, although her constant swearing can get on someone’s nerves very quickly. If there’s another thing that I would like to point out, it would have to be the erotic strip club sequences. The combination of its alluring cinematography and its eye-opening choreography made those sequences highly irresistible, which would surely make a lot of men want to join in on the action.
Overall, “Hustlers” is a pleasurable and well-acted representation of strippers stealing money from rich people. Ranging from its talented cast to its financial commentary from a stripper’s perspective, the film is best seen as both a “girls night out” experience and a suitable crime drama for people outside of its target audience. Unless you’re uncomfortable with seeing a bunch of strippers do their own thing, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Lopez and if you’re familiar with the events it’s based on.