Based on a 2015 article within New York magazine; ‘Hustlers’ ably exhibits the delight that women can hustle and flow like the best of them. From scooping up paper bills to taking meaty cuts from intoxicated men, this film documents a rise to power and social commentary amongst an enjoyable glam-show.
Dorothy (Constance Wu) begins a new job at a strip club and becomes Destiny; a fated moniker leading her to a destined path of adoration for pro-dancer Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Together they work out how best to make money without gyrating on stages and, with some friendly help, the women soar with a business model of drugging wealthy suits, taking them to the club and swiping their plastic for thousands of dollars each time.
Director and writer behind ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ is a dual hand once again for this sensational account of female smarts. Lorene Scafaria effortlessly tackles the back and forth narrative of Destiny’s dabble in spiking rich males, and speaking with journalist Elizabeth (Julia Stiles). She also paints the stripper world as something less seedy than expected, the power of the women and their personal lives enrich the environment and with bomb-ass slow motion of the ladies doing their heist thang, Scafaria ensures scantily clad performers are not subjected to the male gaze but are controllers of their own bodies and own path.
Of course the shifting timeline is nothing new and this film doesn’t add anything to the model but it’s worked in well and like the interview asides in ‘I, Tonya’, this comedy/drama mixes equal parts emotion and comedic flair to the journalistic segments. A lot of people are commenting that ‘Hustlers’ resembles a Martin Scorsese pic and you can see the similarities to the extravagance of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ or the dominant surge in ‘Goodfellas’, but this movie greatly retains the slick and gritty beats presented in both those films and nicely shifts the boys’ club behaviour to an engaging floor show of girls running the joint.
The first act is predominately set at Moves; the thriving strip bar where new gal Destiny is taken under the wing of experienced stage act Ramona. The low lights, hot shot clientele and booming DJ playlist combine for a pulsating exploration into the world of dancers and whilst they may be incredibly sexy, they aren’t sexualised. All of them know their worth and want to get back at the guzzling fat cats who ruined America in 2008.
Britney Spears sings ‘Gimme More’, which by the by is exquisitely used in a film that certainly gives you more stripping/dancing scenes than perhaps needed. At first the performances and entrance scenes to bars are cool and empowering but there is a point when the first act feels just a stretch long with slow motion grooving and grinding adding little but minutes to the plot.
Gladly the later scenes spend enough time on both the development of the plan to ‘seduce’ and rip off bankers and portray the women’s home lives, this makes 100% sure you’re on their side because even through the dodgy antics, mostly led by the insatiable thirst of Ramona, it’s not a patch on the crash 11 years ago, fuelled by greedy arrogant guys in power ties and Rolex watches.
‘Hustlers’ is a glitzy and bold movie headlined by the shining star-beam of J-Lo. She grabs the attention not solely by her captivating command of the pole but with an instinct buried in her performance of motherhood, friendship and dogged desire to be on top. The skills of Wu, Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer with Lopez squad up for a fab foursome that hook you in and have you enjoying the dance.