Jennifer Lopez is back owning the big screen in Hustlers, the true-crime tale about a gang of New York City strippers turn swindlers. Also starring Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B, there’s plenty of star power flesh sharing the limelight in this entertaining crime caper.
Lopez plays Ramona Vega, a veteran stripper who’s the envy of her peers and the preferred company of the high-end clients attending the strip club she works in. Dorothy, aka Destiny (Constance Wu), falls under her spell and subsequently, Vega becomes her mentor teaching her how to master the pole and work the big-ticket customers. They make a great team and quite frankly they’re raking it in, enjoying big cars and even bigger designer handbags.
Dorothy stops dancing to have her daughter and loses touch with Romano. When they reunite post the 2008 financial crisis, the money train of Wall Street punters has dried up. But Vega has a side hustle so the two end up working together again to run a crew of women drugging then stealing from the still very wealthy NY bankers and CEOs.
The story is mostly told via Dorothy’s interview with Elizabeth (Julia Stiles), a journalist writing a story on Ramona and her dirty dealings. Through her Goodfellas style voiceover, we get to know more about the relationships and motivations driving these women. There’s a killer soundtrack too (including Lorde’s Royals) accompanying all the action which really helps you toe-tap through the story and adds to the ‘girls night out’ feel of it all.
Hustlers is sexy, funny and full of “you go girl” moments with some memorable quotes to take home to boot. Scenes of bustling excitement backstage at the strip club bring about some great banter and the comedic close calls and character quirks during their illegal escapades make for an entertaining watch. Strong performances are given all round but especially from Lopez and Wu who share great energy and chemistry throughout. My only real gripe would be that I was yearning for a little more depth and grit to the story, especially around their motivations to commit these offences and as the story draws to its inevitable conclusion – but Hustlers never quite delivers this extra layer.
Watching J-Lo as a stripper scantily clad and grinding on hundred dollar bills is probably a fantasy for many a fan. We already know her, and her famous behind, to be some kind of genetic miracle (she’s bloody 50 years old!!) and it’s all on show here. But, instead of this display leaving me feeling insecure, jealous or bitchy towards this way too perfect body, I just found myself thinking “DAMN she looks AMAZING” and “GO GUUUURL you WORK IT!” And, that’s the overarching message that Hustlers projects. It’s one of sisterhood, survival and the kind of solidarity we probably all wish we had more of (minus the criminal activity).
Check out Hustlers for a fun and enjoyable dose of sisterhood, stripping and stings.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.