The Hustle (2019)

The Hustle
Director: Chris Addison
Writer: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, Jac Schaeffer
Cast: Rebel Wilson, Anne Hathaway, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Nicholas Woodeson, Dean Norris, Tim Blake Nelson
Seen on: 21.1.2023

Content Note: ableism, fatmisia

Penny (Rebel Wilson) gets by as a grifter, specializing in using men’s sexism against them. But when things get a little hot, she decides it would be best to leave the country. She comes to France where she runs into Josephine (Anne Hathaway). Josephine is a grifter, too, but she plays on another level, having established a wealthy existence with a giant beach house. Penny is determined to learn from Josephine, and since Josephine is afraid that Penny will blow her cover with her brashness, she agrees. But their new-found and fragile partnership is tested with a bet: whoever will be the first to extract money from tech billionaire Thomas (Alex Sharp), will win.

I was unsure about watching The Hustle. On the one hand, I really like Anne Hathaway. On the other hand, Rebel Wilson’s brand of humor really doesn’t work for me. Unfortunately, the film was much more of the latter than the former, and the ending just sucked.

The film poster showing Josephine (Anne Hathaway) and Penny (Rebel Wilson) standing in front of a golden car in fancy black dresses.

The Hustle pretends that it is some kind of feminist “women taking apart the men that wronged them/women in general” story. Do not be fooled by that. There is very little to that angle. The film doesn’t even manage the ever popular girlboss feminism. In fact, in the end they are the ones bested by a man, forced to swallow their pride and admit defeat. It’s a pretty humiliating end to a story that was already more about competition than solidarity.

The film also focuses much more on Penny than on Josephine, which means that there is a lot more Rebel Wilson than I personally can bear. That Anne Hathaway, too, went in the direction of Wilson’s kind of humor didn’t help me either. Especially since it didn’t mean that the two managed to have actual chemistry. Plus, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that Wilson’s fatness was portrayed as inherently lower class, uncouth, and ridiculous, so a little fatmisia was thrown into the mix, too. And there was a long, drawn-out “joke” where Penny pretends to be blind.

Penny (Rebel Wilson) and Josephine (Anne Hathaway) clapping enthusiastically.

If you like Rebel Wilson, then by all means, give the film a try. Just don’t expect it to be an actual heist movie where the heist and its cleverness is actually the point of the plot. I don’t think this film has a point. But even if it did, it’s certainly not about intricate planning.

It all makes The Hustle painful, at least when it isn’t completely bland. The audience deserves better than this.

Penny (Rebel Wilson) and Josephine (Anne Hathaway) sitting in Josephine's garden. Penny is trying to convince Josephine of something.

Summarizing: I’ll continue to stay away from Rebel Wilson movies.

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