Dan Skip Allen
Hustlers is based on a Viral Magazine article by Jessica Pressler. Her and the director Lorene Scafaria collaborated on the script together. This story was spread widely via the Howard Stern radio show as well. He was always talking about the Scores club. Who was coming and going from there and so forth. It makes sense then after the stock market crash in 2008 that they would struggle. Strippers need men who have money so they can spend it. And nobody cared how they got it. They were all swimming in cash. So when the tables were turned everybody felt a little butt hurt. No pun intended.
Constance Wu’s straight off of her star making performance in Crazy Rich Asians portrays a struggling mother, Destiny. She’s just trying to provide for her sick mother and little baby Lilly. Jennifer Lopez portrays Ramona. A savvy dancer who knows her way around a stripper pole. She takes Destiny under her wing. They hatch a plan to take advantage of these ‘fat cat’ Wall Street stock brokers. Everything is working so well, they enlist help in the form of Annabelle (Lili Reinhart), Diamond (Cardi B) and a few others, too numerous to name. In the world of the #metoo movement and #timesup this seems like it’s too good to be true. What’s too good to be true usually is. It was fun while it lasted for these ladies. They were buying designer bags, Louboutin shoes and fur coats. How could something so good come crashing down? People get too greedy and they start making mistakes. That’s how…
Hustlers reminded me of a female version of Goodfellas. A new upstart joins the crew, the older grizzled veteran takes him in and they go on a huge crime spree and are living high on the hog. Hustlers is very similar to that in every aspect except it’s woman strippers instead of male gangsters. I don’t know if the similarities were intentional but they were very evident to me. I do love a movie based on true events and this story was quite compelling. Jennifer Lopez is having her John Travolta moment right now. When she puts her mind to it she can do good work. Not in the case of The Second Act though. That film was abysmal.
Using a framing sequence is sometimes a good way to tell a story. And the Julia Stiles character was well used in Hustlers. She got Destiny to talk about the things that happened to help move the story forward. This was a great thing for the film. We learned about the characters and the overall storyline but it didn’t knock us over the head with narration or anything. This was an effective strategy for telling this story. The director, Lorene Scafaria, really new what she wanted for this story and it worked very well. It’s good to see female centric films that have a message about solidarity and sisterhood without being too overbearing. This film did just enough without going overboard to be an entertaining film. It had serviceable performances and great direction and a very good story.
3 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen