You can’t always get what you want, but if you know how to hustle you can certainly get what you need.
Destiny (Constance Wu) isn’t new to stripping, but she’s made her way to the city in the hopes the clientele have a lot more cash to spend. Things aren’t going quite to plan until she is taken under the wing of seasoned pro, Ramona Vega (Jennifer Lopez).
Together Destiny and Ramona form a partnership turned sisterhood, sharing the highs and experiences of the crazy life they lead. However, when personal and economical circumstances stop the money from rolling in, these savvy women have to fight to find a new way to make a living.
Lines of morality are redrawn and limits are pushed until boughs and friendships break.
It’s one thing to know how to make a man reach for his wallet – and it’s another thing entirely to take it out for him. But when you operate in a world divided by those being screwed and those on top – you do what you can to stay in the best position possible.
There is an aspect of distrust with the narrator which I really enjoyed. The story is being told from Destiny’s point of view in the future to a journalist, Elizabeth (Julia Stiles). However, from the faltered way she recalls moments when the story gets difficult, her sudden outbursts and the defensive position she upholds – we’re never entirely sure if she really sees herself in a positive light or is just withholding truths.
All hail Jennifer Lopez. No one is saying the woman cannot act and that she doesn’t have range, (if you think that then you’re stuck watching The Wedding Planner/Maid in Manhattan and haven’t seen her in Shades of Blue) but her as the self-confident, protective and ruthless Ramona Vega was something else. And let’s talk about the fact her pole dancing scene was an amazing piece of work; she learnt in weeks what it takes others years – and that’s a Tom Cruise level of commitment I whole-heartedly applaud.
The line up of actors – both debut and seasoned – was incredibly random in the best way. Keke Palmer (True Jackson VP, Scream Queens, Star), Lili Reinhart (Riverdale), Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale), Cardi B (Musician). It’s great to have some new faces on the main screen – front and centre, instead of ones we see time and time again.
There was some really great camera work in this movie, which only really sounds surprising because it was unexpected. There are a number of really poignant long takes that kept the audience moving with the characters as well as working to form great symmetry within the story.
Finally, and retrospectively, I think it’s interesting how there was no commendation nor judgement on the stripping aspect of their lives – it just was. It was a thing that these women did for whatever their reasons – but it was also not a thing that they hated or were forced into. Taking the objective road on this fundamental aspect in the story was a fantastic choice.
As I’ve gotten to this point I realise that I don’t have many negatives with this movie.
For me, the one thing I definitely felt was where the movie lagged. There were at least three if not four points in the movie where the scenes or story arc seemed to be going on for way too long. It was easy enough to notice as the characters weren’t doing anything that drove the story forward – it was just unnecessary and repetitive exposition.
Lastly, I would say that the end of the movie just left things feeling unfinished. I understand that Hustlers is based on a true story but some sort of anchor to the present in a “where are they now” text, would have given some closure to the story and audience.
An enjoyable movie that though having a few personal structure issues with, I thoroughly enjoyed. It was an unbias insight into the lives of women, society tends to look down on and reject and the story was both brash and powerful in its unashamedness.