Hustlers film review: on the Wall Street grind

Jennifer Lopez as Ramona and Constance Wu as Destiny in Hustlers (2019).
Jennifer Lopez as Ramona and Constance Wu as Destiny in Hustlers (2019).

FUNNY, thrilling, emotional and heartfelt, not to mention an all-star cast, Hustlers is a blockbuster for the 21st century.

In 2007, Destiny (Constance Wu) is the new girl at strip club Moves and barely able to make enough money to support her grandmother.

Designated queen of the club Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) takes Destiny under her wing and teaches her how to get the maximum amount of money out of the club’s Wall Street clients, until the 2008 financial crash happens.

With the money no longer free-flowing, both try to work retail jobs but with daughters to support, Ramona concocts a new scheme that is not exactly legal but will make both them and the club rich again.

The best friends become successful business partners but it is not long before the power gets to Ramona’s head.

It is clear from the first scene tracking Destiny as she walks around the strip club that this film is using the female gaze.

The club is framed as the women’s place of work and we are not meant to be titillated but see the ups and downs of the job like any other job.

Destiny narrates the story in 2014 as she talks to journalist Elizabeth (Julia Stiles), with the film based on a real article published in New York magazine.

This means we see Ramona and the other women entirely through Destiny’s eyes, as colleagues, mentors and friends and how they protect each other in a world that does not care about them regardless of whether they work in a strip club or a clothing store.

Lorene Scafaria’s direction is creative and lively, matched by a soundtrack of pop and rap songs that evoke the time interspersed with delicate Chopin pieces on piano.

Lopez is a true star, physically commanding every shot she is in, including a pole dancing scene where no stunt double was required, and skilfully moving between the comedic and dramatic moments.

But Wu is her match and together they focus the film around the two character’s friendship and how despite the glitz and glam that is what is most important to them.

THE ESSENTIALS

Hustlers (MA)

Directed: Lorene Scafaria

Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles

Four stars

Review by Lucy Rutherford

Now in cinemas

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