Directed by Lorene Scafaria.
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Mette Towley, Madeline Brewer, Lizzo, Keke Palmer and Julia Styles.
Inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article that went viral, Hustlers follows a savvy crew of former strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Inspired by the crazy true story, Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez steal the show as a pair of strippers-turned-conmen in Hustlers. With great direction and a tight script from Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is entertaining, funny and captivating in this new take on the heist genre as Wu and Lopez steal from the rich and give to themselves, but the focus remains on the characters and how their situations have changed them over any sort of spectacle.
The strongest aspect to the film is the friendship between Wu’s Destiny and Lopez’s Ramona. The two share a strong connection to each other as Ramona takes Destiny under her wing and teaches her some important moves to attract club-goers into giving up all their cash for a dance. As the story goes on, their friendship evolves into something more like family as they and their team of girls take on more risks to make money during a tough economical time and swindle those they feel are responsible. Lopez in particular gives a career best as Ramona who acts as the protective older sister mixed with shades of Denzel Washington’s famous Training Day role. Both actresses portray the slippery moral slope they’re on quite well as Wu’s Destiny is more conflicted while Ramona is more willing to take chances and do whatever it takes.
The rest of the supporting cast are memorable in their roles. Lili Reinhart serves up most of the comic relief as one of the more innocent members of their group prone to vomiting at any nervousness while Cardi B and Keke Palmer impress as the more serious Diamond and Mercedes. Julia Stiles doesn’t have too much to do in the film as her character, Elizabeth, recounted the story’s events with Destiny for her article at a point in time set after much of the film, but she shared some good chemistry with Wu during their screentime together. All in all the cast was pretty solid with their performances.
Scafaria’s script flowed well as the story is kept captivating at each turn. The comedy developed naturally between the characters and much of the dialogue felt very snappy. The film’s cinematography is another great aspect to it as the visuals and colours are very vibrant. At several points the camera is focused on the actor’s faces to further convey the impact of their emotions, a choice which pays off well for Scafaria. She’s also not afraid to play around a bit with the format, such as a brief but crazy dream Destiny has or dropping the audio at a particularly dramatic point in Destiny’s story. These choices just strengthen the film and make it more visually interesting.
Hustlers is a pretty entertaining film that is bolstered by its strong cast and script. Wu and Lopez’s connection feels authentic as both actresses deliver great performances. The film is flashy and stylized, but not without substance as Scafaria’s direction emphasizes the connections between the women and how far they are willing to go in their schemes. Thanks to the cast and direction, Hustlers is a memorable, earnest and funny in its presentation of this wild true crime story.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.