Saturday, April 16, 2022


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2019
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B, Mette Narrative, Wai Ching Ho, Trace Lysette, Mercedes Ruehl, Devin Ratray, Dov Davidoff, Frank Whalley, Jon Glaser, Madeline Brewer, Steven Boyer
Genre: Drama, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
After the little seen "The Meddler" and the TV Movie "This is Heaven", writer/director Lorene Scafaria had the biggest hit of her career thus far with "Hustlers", co-starring Jennifer Lopez, who also produced the feature film. The film, which is based on an article published by the New York Magazine, follows the life of Dorothy, a woman who has had a difficult life since she was a child and her parents left her with her grandmother and went their own way. Dorothy is being interviewed for an article by a journalist who wants to know more about a hustle she and some of her friends did a few years back and how they almost got away with it. The narrative takes us back to 2007 when Dorothy was working in a strip club and going by the name of Destiny. While there, she becomes a protégée of the beautiful and iconic Ramona Vega. Her act gets better, and things continue to go well, till the recession hits them big time, and the clientele dries up. The dancers go their separate ways and in Dorothy/Destiny's case, she has a child, with a partner whom she soon separates from. As Dorothy/Destiny is forced to go back to dancing, she reconnects with Ramona, who now has a new hustle. This new hustle involves targeting rich men in bars. The women in their group pretend to drink with those individuals, while they secretly drug them, and while they're pretty much out, they max out their credit cards. The hustle proves to be quite successful, even if some accidents and fumbling occurs, that is until other strippers start doing the same. Ramona decides to take her group and do things her way, with a different group of women, until things turn sour, when they target a client who is not the typical Wall Street professional, and who reports the incident to the police.
"Hustlers" unlike other stripper related features such as Andrew Bergman's "Striptease" or even Paul Verhoeven's "Showgirls", goes for a more decidedly realistic approach when it comes to the depiction of the life of this group of women, who strip for a living. Lorene Scafaria illustrates this world very much like a family of women, who bond over the challenges they have in their lives, and how stripping is what they have to do in order to survive and make sure they can support their families (or just themselves). The film doesn't portray these characters as victims, but instead as women who resort to what they can in order to advance in life. While this camaraderie is well illustrated, the characters themselves are sadly not very developed beyond some superficial details, all of which fails to register much as character development. The focus ends up being the stripping and the situations these women find themselves at as a result of that particular job, and subsequently the hustle in which they get involved, which at times may be remindful of Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Eleven", however without the suaveness and playfulness of that film. It's a film where the narrative keeps deftly moving, even if it doesn't necessarily bring anything different in terms of point of view, though it does give Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez opportunities to shine. The production team on the film is solid, with highlights going to cinematographer Todd Banhazl and production designer Jane Musky (who has also worked in such films as Jerry Zucker's "Ghost" and James Foley's "Glengarry Glen Ross"). Worth watching.