The Hustlers Are Anything But a Hustle

After watching the trailer, I was a bit skeptical of Hustlers. Anything with that many stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Keke Palmer couldn’t have put much thought into a script about strippers conning Wall Street businessmen. Then the movie threw in Lizzo, Cardi B and even Usher in one quick scene to really fill me with worry.

To my utmost delight Cardi B was in only 10 minutes of the movie and the rest was filled with Oscar-worthy acting and unique storytelling. The true story of Destiny traversing the workings of strip clubs after the 2008 crash of Wall Street is backdropped by a reporter interviewing Destiny herself about her crimes.

The movie can feel long at times, for there are only so many stripper and shopping scenes one can take before the meaning is clear. Even so, all the characters were very fleshed out and had their own personality. It was refreshing in its humor and its respect for its character.

It’s main theme was about family, mothers and friendship. Hustlers is based on true events, but I doubt the movie worries too much about keeping events historic rather than fictionally entertaining. Which, personally, I was fine with since I found the pace and flow of the story entertaining. There were only about two short montages that I would have preferred cut. The heart and emotion was behind every scene, lending to the theme.

There has been some Oscar buzz about Lopez’s performance. Her performance was powerful and probably the best performance in the movie, especially a pole dancing scene where Lopez’s moves are hardly those of a 50 year olds. However, I would give the sound and editing team of the movie awards over any acting.

The stylistic choices of the film were astounding, playing with point of view in ways I haven’t seen before. They capitalized on the interview driving the story, allowing the voice through the phone to narrate while a flashback happens, and following only the character that is being interviewed for that is the only side of the story that would be known.

The direction and framing of each character was engaging, showing the women in power and in control. They didn’t focus on or sexualize the nudity that was shown, even though it is set in a strip club. It went to lengths to show that each character had a motive and their options led to where they were.

Most people in the theater were there to see a movie about strippers making money off of ugly rich men, but the depth and the craft of the film goes farther than I had any hope.