An Unstoppable Force
Hustlers (2019): 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.
Ok, first things first. Before you read this review: GO WATCH THIS MOVIE. RIGHT NOW. It is an absolute must-watch and deserves every cent of its box office gross. Stories like this, told like this, don't come around very often. A film about female empowerment, female companionship, based on strippers, that avoids the male gaze thanks to its meticulous female director, Hustlers is exactly the kind of film I want to see more of a post #MeToo Hollywood. Make ALL of the money, please!
This film is an unstoppable force, and it shines through in the performances and the filmmaking. Jennifer Lopez is at this film's molten center, like the freaking star that she is, putting in easily the best performance I've ever seen from her, ever. (And I've seen more of her films than I should probably care to admit!) Her performance as Ramona is the heartbeat of this film. From the first moment she's on screen, Ramona owns this film and everything in it, and we're just lucky enough to witness it. However, she is complimented spectacularly by Constance Wu. The star of Crazy Rich Asians puts the haters to bed by showing us that she really can bring it, regardless of whether the role is in her comfort zone or not. Her character, Destiny, is the brains to Ramona's unbridled spirit. Destiny is the emotional centerpiece of this film, and her character is fleshed out flawlessly by director / writer Lorene Scafaria.
We need to talk about Lorene Scafaria, because she is the reason this film works as well as it does. The director / writer of this film, (and formerly of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World acclaim) she puts a touch on the filmmaking that sets it apart from so many other films about criminal subjects. She makes Ramona and Destiny personable, authentic, and relatable. Not only in the writing of each character, but in the filmmaking itself. The editing, reminiscent of an Adam McKay project, (he and Will Ferrell happen to be producers on this film) is a driving force, and a big reason why these two characters are so relatable and sympathetic. Pulling a play out of The Social Network, this film intersperses sequences with the journalist who wrote this real-life story, (played by freaking Julia Stiles and I'm here for it. Also Lizzo, who I'd be seriously depressed if I neglected to mention the fact that LIZZO IS IN THIS AND NOW I'M ALIVE. Wait, where was I?) which really helps to ground the story. This film is not like The Wolf of Wall Street, which focuses on the excess itself, instead, Hustlers focuses on the relationships and how the excess both brings them together and tears them apart. This makes Hustlers far more human, even as they're giving each other million dollar fur coats in their penthouse apartments. You feel for them, and their suffering, which is all thanks to the perspective director / writer Lorene Scafaria puts on this film
End of the day, this is one of the best films I've seen all year. While it does struggle to develop any meaningful characters outside of Ramona and Destiny, it doesn't necessarily need to. These characters are more than worth the cost of admission, as is this story of female empowerment. See it once. See it twice. See it a hundred times. Hustlers is still worth it.
My Number: 9.5/10
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