Plot – Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Director – Lorene Scafaria
Released: September 2019
It took a while, but I finally found time to watch Hustlers and with all the talk of how good the film was and how much of a snub it was that the virtuoso performances of Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu were overlooked at the Oscars.
The first thing to say is that although I found both actresses’ performances enjoyable and containing a certain amount of nuanced, neither felt strong enough or bringing enough emotion to come into Oscar contention.
From all the buzz surrounding Hustlers and how incredibly progressive it was, which suggested to me that either the audience is bombarded with it to the point you can’t help but notice or the people were going in looking for it or the, however, I didn’t notice any overt “wokeness” meaning that chances are it was the latter and that Scafaria as a relatively new director did a great job adding the elements to a film about the seedy underbelly of the strip club scene in a natural manner while making sure that the crimes the women commit during the film are never applauded nor glorified but merely presented in a truthful way.
The friendship between Destiny and Ramona feels completely plausible and at times beautiful, which is good as this more than the crimes is what the film centres around, meaning that although at no point does the film encourage you to root for their crimes, you do have an affinity for them due to the excellent scriptwriting, acting and directing, you do somewhat root for them to succeed.
This leads me onto one of the more interesting thoughts I had when watching the film, which is how similar the film is to Joker, both using flashbacks to tell the story, both use Wall Street financiers as the catalyst for the actions of the protagonists and both show the downward spiral that leads to failure, with the only difference being that Hustlers, the main difference being that in Joker the film most assuredly makes you revel in the criminal acts.
Now is Hustlers a perfect movie? No, far from it. Is it Oscar-worthy? probably not unless we were looking at quotes. My main criticism is that the film was clearly miss advertised as a cross between Magic Mike, Showgirls and Oceans 11, when in fact it’s not really any of these and closer to The Wolf of Wall Street or Catch Me If You Can but with strippers.
If you’re looking for a sexy film about strippers, then and expect to be titillated, then this isn’t the film you, however, if you want to watch an interesting and humorous mix of crime and sisterhood, then Hustlers that doesn’t treat men as morons, then this is right up your street.