Hustlers Review

If any guys out there are going to see the movie with their wives/girlfriends with the secret hope that they are going to get a look at Jennifer Lopez in all of her naked glory, then let me tell you something – Oh wait, right…
Spoiler Alert!
At no time during the film does JLo, Constance Wu, or any of the other top-billed actresses in this movie have any scene a la Demi Moore in Striptease, or Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls. Any flashes of female nudity are limited to unnamed characters in the background. There is one scene involving a fully naked man with his junk on fulldisplay, if that helps.
But this movie is a story about strippers, not stripping. 
The movie is laid out as a story being told to a reporter named Elizabeth (Julia Stiles). The character is a representation of the actual reporter who wrote the original article the movie is based on. 
At a strip club in New York, Destiny (Constance Wu) is the new girl at the club who is having trouble reaching the same earning level as some of the more experienced strippers. Desperate to earn enough to support herself, and her ailing grandmother, she seeks the help of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), a veteran stripper (and most popular one) at the club. 
Ramona takes Destiny under her wing and starts mentoring her in the ways of working the rich Wall Street stockbrokers who frequent the club. For the first year, everything goes perfectly. Destiny is going home every night with more cash than she can even stuff into her knee-high boots, and she forms a very close mother-daughter relationship with Ramona. 
All that comes crashing down after the financial crisis of 2008 leads to hard times at the club for Destiny, compounded by the fact that she gets pregnant by a regular at the club she starts a relationship with. Unable to work, she becomes completely financially dependent on him, losing touch with Ramona. 
A few years later, Destiny has kicked out her abusive baby-daddy, moved back to her grandmother’s house with her daughter, and returned to work at the strip club. It’s there she reunites with Ramona and learns about how she has come up with a new and more controversial way of bilking rich men out of their money. 
Teaming up with two other strippers Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer), they go “fishing” at upscale bars looking for wealthy men. After slipping a “roofie” into the guys’ drink, they will coax them into coming to the strip club where they are able to then run up thousands of dollars in charges on his debit/credit cards while in this drugged-out stupor. 
While at first, the four of them find great joy, and form a close bond through their success. But as the scheme goes on, Ramona becomes more and more obsessed with taking as much as she can; and resorts to attempting increasingly more dangerous means to get what she wants. This strains her relationship with Destiny, who begins feeling like she wants out. 
As crime dramas go, this one manages to carve out its own niche apart from those like the Ocean’s Eleven franchise. It doesn’t involve some overly elaborate scheme, requiring criminal masterminds with highly specialized skills. All that is required by these ladies is the ability to distract a man with her cleavage long enough to sprinkle some drugs into his drink, then swipe their credit card through an interact machine. And also unlike those other movies, the way people will view the morality of it all is likely to vary wildly (most likely along gender lines). 
There are more than a few metaphors for the MeToo movement at play here. A lot of women may see it as a group of strong feminist icons turning the tables on a bunch of oppressive, sexist men who get what they deserve. There’s even a line in the film where Julia Stiles reporter character admits that she doesn’t feel sorry for the male victims. This can be a controversial statement as you could also look at this story as a gender-reversed example of the very behavior that the MeToo movement has been trying to eliminate. The men use power and money to get sex, while women use power and sex to get money. Each gender wants the most what they have the greatest difficulty getting. 
Despite all the moral dilemmas, the movie manages to be very entertaining and watchable. It never drags, has just enough humour to keep things from getting too dark, and it holds your interest all the way to the end. 
It’s clearly not a movie for everybody. It’s probably not for anyone who is anti-fur. I definitely understood why so many protested JLo at the Toronto Film Festival during its premiere. The primary audience is obviously for females 14 and up. I doubt many straight men will go see this film unless they are going with their significant other. Not to say that they can’t enjoy it on some level, but as I’ve mentioned, the guys are likely to be disappointed by the lack of nudity. 
As far as casting goes, you would be hard-pressed to find a better actress than Jennifer Lopez to play the part of Ramona. She was absolutely perfect in the role, and may even be generating some Oscar buzz. I’m less sure about the choosing of Constance Wu for her role as Destiny. I’m no expert on strippers, but she just didn’t look the part, not that there was anything wrong with her acting skills. The script was excellent. I’m sure some events were embellished for the sake of the film, but the core of the story has an air of truth. 
Overall, it’s a very good, fun, enjoyable film that is sure to do well in theatres and possibly generate a little controversy and get people talking about issues.

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