★★★★ | Zach Hester • @hestzach
A lot of people will dismiss Hustlers, the latest film from Lorene Scafaria, as nothing more than a movie about a bunch of strippers with a terrible feature from Cardi B. However, it’s evident from the first frame of this film, that the story is about far more than exotic dancers: it’s a strong story about business, power, and believe it or not, the struggle of the labor force after the 2008 financial crisis.
Hustlers follows a crew of New York strippers from an upscale club who begin to steal money from stock traders and CEOs after the financial crash in 2008 at the crux of the Bush and Obama presidencies. The majority of the film follows Dorothy, or Destiney (Constance Wu) as an up-and-coming stripper who’s looking to make money to take care of her grandmother. She has no natural talent for the job, so veteran dancer Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) takes Wu under her wing to learn how to impress big money clients.
Jennifer Lopez was born for this role. People have been shocked by those saying “J-Lo could snag an Oscar nomination for this role,” but I’d go as far to say that she could not only be nominated, she could win. Lopez owns every single scene she’s in and when she isn’t onscreen, you almost miss her commanding presence. It’s a physically demanding role that demands she portray supreme confidence and believable vulnerability over the course of a single scene. There’s a scene in a diner that’s especially great for her. You’ll leave the theater thinking about Lopez.
Don’t take it on it’s face as a stripper movie. It’s about the hustle to make it on your own and how far a person would be willing to go to achieve that. Hustlers features sound performances and a great soundtrack, but a few stumbles from a director with only a few films under her belt. Regardless, it’s worth tuning in for and might enchant you to come back to the theater for whatever Scafaria does next.