Hustlers: Film Review

I had been excited for Hustlers for ages – Jennifer Lopez as a stripper, yes please! – but that excitement ramped up over the weekend when the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. And I can confirm that the hype is real.

The film is told through the eyes of Dorothy/Destiny (Constance Wu) who starts a new job at a strip club and has no idea what she’s doing. Seasoned stripper Ramona (Lopez) takes her under her wing and shows her the ropes and they soon become friends. The strip club business is hit hard by the financial crash of 2008 and they come up with a new way of making money – drugging Wall Street guys and maxing out their credit cards.

First of all, I have to talk about Jennifer Lopez. Just wow. She is made for this part and I honestly can’t see anyone else doing it. Lopez has proved she can really act for the first time since the 90s. I’ve always loved watching her onscreen but she doesn’t need to give it her all in fluff and romcoms so in this gritty drama she really shows what she can do. People have been calling for her to get an Oscar nomination and I don’t know if I’d go that far but I was floored by her performance, particularly her pole dancing introduction. Her body, the barely-there outfit, the athleticism! I want to see that scene again. Now I can understand why Lorene Scafaria waited for her.

Wu is the audience’s eyes into the strip club world and she is likeable enough but everyone else steals the show. Most of the time it’s Lopez but Lili Reinhart was fun and adorable as Annabelle, Keke Palmer was hilarious as Mercedes, Madeline Brewer‘s Dawn was basically her unhinged Handmaid’s Tale character Janine, and Cardi B and Lizzo nailed it with their cameos. The last two aren’t in it much at all so if you’re going purely for them you’ll be disappointed. Julia Stiles isn’t given much to do as a journalist interviewing Dorothy about their crimes in 2014, while Usher and G-Eazy also make small appearances.

You can tell that this film has been directed by a woman because of the way the camera observes these women’s bodies. It doesn’t linger on their butts and cleavage and the erotic strip scenes don’t feel pervy. Also, none of the men have substantial roles, they all have bit parts, most don’t have names – it is ALL about these women.

I also need to give a shout out to the soundtrack. It is SO good and full of bangers. When the opening “It’s Britney bitch” line of Gimme More came on, I got so excited. Same for Rihanna’s Birthday Cake and Flo Rida’s Club Can’t Handle Me.

Hustlers is way more dark, serious and gritty than I expected it to be. But it also many laugh out loud moments and is thoroughly entertaining. It’s a crazy and fascinating true story that has been handled surprisingly well.

In cinemas Friday 13th September 

Rating: 4/5

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