Based on a New York magazine’s 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores” written by Jessica Pressler, #Hustlers tells the story of New York strippers who make money by drugging wealthy, Wall Street men and maxing out their credit cards. The story is told through the lens of Destiny (Constance Wu) who fast forward years later is now talking to a journalist about their escapades while shedding more light on her friend and accomplice, Ramona (J.Lo)
The story begins in 2007 where we see a disillusioned Destiny, who is the new girl at the club, making minimal money (she is not very good at it) and just trying to take care of her grandma. She meets Ramona and you can tell she is quite enamored by her. Ramona takes her under her wing and she begins to make decent money. She meets a guy (G-Eazy), they have a child and she has to stop stripping. When he leaves and can’t find a job, she reconnects with Ramona. They join forces with two other strippers, Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart). They hatch up this plan and the hustle begins.
This was a fun movie. It was a glitzy, gaudy plot that in its own way a sort of female empowerment movie. Don’t get me wrong, what they did was wrong but beyond that, there was a layer where these women became family to each other or as Ramona put it, they were doing justice to these men who were stealing from people anyway.
I saw this movie for J. Lo because I love her, and she did not disappoint. J.Lo as Ramona was fantastic casting. She became the character wholly and completely. And her introductory scene…whewww…that scene was everything and a reminder as to how even though people always want to say she is not talented, she IS a star.
I have thoughts on Constance Wu, save for Fresh Off The Boat, which she is great on, Wu just doesn’t have strong screen presence and isn’t cut out to be a leading lady especially for big movies. But Hollywood is trying to make her a thing. I was fully prepared to see her suck but I have to say that I don’t think she sucked. I think what worked was even though she was co-lead it still felt like an ensemble with the rest of the girls so it balanced out. Her character was also just right to complement how big Ramona character was. It was a pleasant surprise to see Julia Stiles as the reporter and the cameos were nice. I’ll tell you now that Cardi B and Lizzo were not full characters in the movie. Keke Palmer was the same as she is in most of her roles, a tad over the top and extra but it fit in this case and I have to say Lili Reinhart was a pleasant surprise for me.
I want to say that some parts of the movies were disjointed. I know the producers were trying to humanize the characters but the cut to reminding us on numerous occasions that Destiny was abandoned by her parents felt out of place. But on the flip, it could also explain Destiny’s adoration of Ramona and seeing her as a maternal figure. There were certain parts of the movie that felt filler/dead air and were longer than should.
The story being semi-autobiographical lends it some credence but unfortunately makes it real because you aren’t able to suspend belief on what they did to people. The Ramona and Destiny characters are real (albeit different names) and the jail time mentioned was real. Movie tickets are expensive but I think this is worth its money. It was nice to see a mostly female cast directed by a woman also. The crimes were bad but the movie was fun.