Hustlers

Who needs a purse when you have a metallic bikini top?
Verdict: 
8/10 - Jennifer Lopez steals the show in this fascinating film about a group of savvy strippers.
Release Date: 
Friday, September 13, 2019
Written by: 

Hustlers follows a group of strip club employees who work together to turn the tables on their wealthy clients.

8

While Jennifer Lopez is a force in the music industry, her film career has been a bit of a mixed bag.

Sure, there will always be ardent fans of the superstar's Hollywood debut in 1997's Selena, as well as romcoms such as The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan, yet the string of other flicks she made throughout the 2000s have been far less successful (Gigli, most notably).

But in spite of her ups and downs, fans will be pleased to know Lopez has now proved her acting chops once and for all in Lorene Scafaria's new crime-drama Hustlers.

Inspired by a New York Magazine article published in 2015 by Jessica Pressler, the plot follows a savvy group of strippers who band together to make the most money out of the stock traders and finance executives who visit the club.

The first act is set in the early 2000s and focuses on the inexperienced Dorothy (Constance Wu) as she sets about entering the industry as a means of supporting her family.

She eventually lands in a popular strip joint, where she meets strippers including Diamond (Cardi B), Liz (Lizzo), Mercedes (Keke Palmer), and Justice (Mette Towley).

Though it is veteran stripper Ramona, played by Lopez, who mesmerises Dorothy, and following a rather touching encounter on a freezing cold night, the pair establish an easy friendship.

The women may not be living out their ideal lives or particularly enjoying their work, however, Scafaria manages to convey an unexpected sense of sisterhood, especially when Ramona agrees to mentor Dorothy with a little help from the likes of Diamond and Liz.

 

Under Ramona's guidance, Dorothy learns all of the tricks of the trade, and is quickly raking in more money from drunk bankers and depressed divorcees than she has seen in her life.

Nevertheless, all good things must come to an end, and when the financial crisis hits in the late-2000s, the sex industry takes a hit too, causing Ramona and Dorothy to formulate a plan in which they seek to lie, steal, and hustle as many wealthy men as they can. Surprisingly, the plan mostly works.

A series of hectic set-ups begin, often involving newcomer Annabelle (Lili Reinhart), with the crew managing to build up their funds and fend off a couple of thrilling close calls while trying to steer clear of the police.

Wu is first-billed in Hustlers and appears in the majority of the scenes. She does a good job of exploring the familial and financial pressures her character is under, whilst also displaying a certain confidence when necessary. 

Lizzo and Reinhart both inject the most humour, but there's no question that Hustlers is Lopez's moment.

With her frosted lips and heavy eyeliner, Ramona oscillates between a determined criminal mastermind and maternal figure, while managing to display a sense of empowerment in the face of her corrupt world.

The 50-year-old knocks her strip club scenes out of the park too, which undoubtedly would have taken a huge commitment.

With Lopez at the forefront, an engaging plot, and enough feminist conviction to be current for 2019, there's no question Hustlers strikes all the right notes.

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