By Gilberto Campa
Everyone comes from different walks of life that lead them to very unique and special situations. For Destiny (Constance Wu), all she wants is to make a good living, remain independent, do a little bit of shopping and help her mother through some tough times. This is the set up for Hustlers which is based off the 2015 New York Times article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler (Julia Stiles). Destiny is a beautiful young girl who is struggling to make really good money in the sex industry as a stripper until she meets the very experienced Ramona Vega (played amazingly by Jennifer Lopez). Lorence Scafaira (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Ricki and The Flash) who wrote and directed the film, did an excellent job in showing the real side of the sex industry as it isn’t as glamorous as people perceive it to be. It is a very difficult, cut throat, manipulative and sometimes a very dangerous profession that isn’t for everyone.
Constance Wu who broke out in last year’s hit Crazy Rich Asians delivers another layered and honest performance this time around. Even though these women are just “doing business” (in their eyes) you still find yourself happy for Destiny as she starts to take the advice of Ramona and gets to have and do things that she only dreamed of when she was struggling to just make a measly 60 dollars. I found myself really surprised by just how emotional, riveting and shocking the movie was, and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. The rest of the cast that includes Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo (and her flute) and the extremely charismatic Cardi B (who basically plays an extension of herself) all have so much fun in this movie particularly the latter. Cardi instantly grabs the attention of the audience every time she appears on screen (which isn’t as much time as I thought she would have) and does a good job at it. But after seeing how the story unfolds you will understand why as Hustlers is co anchored by Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez from beginning to end.
As a fellow Puerto Rican, it’s always nice to see Jennifer Lopez in a role that she can really sink her teeth into. Since her first major role in 1997’s Selena she has only progressed more as an actress (when she isn’t singing, dancing, or producing) and her turn in Hustlers is one of top performances of her career which should get some attention later on in the year. The fact that she trained six weeks to work a pole and make it look like she has done it her whole life is a testament to her work ethic and passion for this project. From the minute you see her introduced on stage to the crowd of Wall Street fat cats eager to spend their money you are mesmerized by her presence. Even though much of the events in the movie include taking advantage of men and their money (LOTS of it) you can’t help but hang on for the ride as you wonder if, and how the ladies are going to be able to keep this up.
Things start to get even wilder as the Economic Recession of 2008 causes Ramona and the gang to come up with new ways to “secure the bag”. It also questions one’s morality a little as you see just how much these women bond and really care for each other because they are all in it together. Much of the women in the movie besides Destiny do not have much and it’s this grand plan that gives them all that they ever really wanted. There are a few scenes that are absolutely heartbreaking because you have become so invested in this ‘family’ and you want them desperately to succeed, even though what they are doing is incredibly wrong. The film is so much deeper than advertised (complete trailer misdirect) as it takes you through all of the emotional spectrum’s that any good drama usually does. With a very entertaining cast, fun cameos, and some great song choices, it stands out in my book as one of the best films of the year…so far. Go experience this for yourself as the movie has something that people can enjoy that will take you on a fun ride!