These women, led by Wu and Lopez, play the game just right.
I want to make an important distinction before proceeding with my “Hustlers” review. When I make my Worst of the Year list, I don’t want anyone to be confused when “The Hustle” finds its spot on it. That horrible movie was filled with utter stupidity and insipid surprises; whereas “Hustlers” is the best money-making flick of its kind since “The Wolf of Wall Street.” It caught me completely by surprise, not because of the ads and posters, but because of its true colors.
Writer-director Lorene Scafaria based this movie on a New York magazine article, and as a female filmmaker, she really gives the girls the brains and motivation they deserve. As far as I’m concerned, when few male filmmakers (known or unknown) guide women, they often treat them like pieces of meat, like Nick Cassavetes did with “The Other Woman.” In this case, I trust female filmmakers more, because they don’t glamorize their beauty; they delve into their intentions.
We meet Dorothy (Constance Wu of “Crazy Rich Asians” fame), who enters the strip world, courtesy of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who becomes her mother figure. The story is set before and after the 2008 financial crisis, which destroyed many jobs, including the main strip club.
Speaking of which, Wall Street brokers are so corrupt and greedy that they spend money getting aroused and violated. That being said, Ramona and Dorothy run their own Ponzi scheme with the help of their girls (Keke Palmer, Lizzo, Cardi B, and Lili Reinhart, half of whom I’ve never heard of).
And even Julie Stiles (as a journalist interviewing Dorothy) doesn’t judge all strippers as criminals. At least that’s what Dorothy wants to make sure of.
But really, it’s Wu and Lopez’s characters that keep you involved. They’re single mothers trying to make ends meet, and they decide to play the game, as long as they don’t have criminals in their organization. Wu is superb as the small time gal entering the big leagues, and I hear Lopez could be up for an Oscar nomination as the big time gal. Hell, they both could.
Did I understand the whole rules and policies? Not all of them, but I was dazzled by the parties, music, drugs, and lifestyle of these conning strippers. It’s a risky and dangerous attempt to represent this reality, and Lorene Scafaria, along with producers Lopez, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Jessica Elbaum, all have sold themselves out.
I admit I was a bit skittish about “Hustlers,” because of my previous film experiences; but when I heard the buzz, I knew I would be in for a good time. It’s not because of the pleasures, it’s because these women have radiant personalities, the one thing perverts and sex addicts can barley grasp on.
Spend your money here.