Hustlers (2019)

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Based on: Jessica Pressler‘s article The Hustlers at Scores
Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Mette Towley, Trace Lysette, Keke Palmer, Mercedes Ruehl, Lili Reinhart, G-Eazy, Cardi B, Lizzo, Usher Raymond
Seen on: 18.12.2019

Destiny (Constance Wu) just about scrapes by as a stripper until she meets Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) who takes her under her wings. She not only teaches her to dance, but also shows her the ropes on how to get the most from their customers. They make a formidable team until the recession hits and they have to go their separate ways. When they run into each other a few years later, Ramona offers Destiny the chance to play a new game – and Destiny gladly accepts, even if not everything is exactly legal.

Hustlers tells a crime story that isn’t as much interested in the crime and much more interested in the women and their friendships. Since that aligns perfectly with my interests, I was very happy about that choice – and the film in general.

The film poster showing Destiny (Constance Wu), Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Diamond (Cardi B), Liz (Lizzo), Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer) in close-ups.

Hustlers is great entertainment. With a good sense of pacing and a nice soundtrack, time just flies by as you watch it. Especially because Lopez and Wu are so fantastic in their respective roles – and together. I appreciated their relationship so much, I didn’t even get the usual “now kiss!” pangs about them (although I definitely wouldn’t have minded if they had kissed).

It was also supernice to get a cast that was so diverse – not only were there plenty of women of color, but they also included a little more body shapes than we usually get (with Lizzo being actually fat) and a broader age range. That they are all sexworkers speaks to the fact that all bodies can be desirable, while the film refuses to sexualize or objectify them. It was a beautiful mix and one I am pretty sure most male directors couldn’t have achieved.

Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) wrapping Destiny (Constance Wu) into her fur coat while wearing it herself.

The film also has a sense of humor, although things are serious more often than not, giving us a welcome break every once in a while. The only thing I didn’t love were the shopping spree montages, but that’s probably because I am just not interested in shopping at all. More power to them, though. And I do mean that: I know that they cheated, betrayed, hustled, but I concur with the stance the film seems to take: those Wall Street men definitely deserved it, and the women were right to use any advantage they could get in a system stacked against them.

I was definitely invested in their story and enjoyed watching them. I wish the film had ended with them riding off into the sunset with the money they stole. Alas, it is based on a true story, so that doesn’t work out. But Scarafia finds the right tone for the ending regardless – as she did during the rest of the film.

Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) walking with Destiny (Constance Wu) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer) into a bar.

Summarizing: Excellent watching.

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