Story: Destiny is beautiful, in her twenties, and broke as hell. So why not dance at an adult club? More money than she’d make anywhere else…much, much more. But when the stock crash of 2008 hits, fellas aren’t making it rain like they used to. So her BFF decides to force those wealthy Wall Streeters hands a bit? Who’s gonna get hurt?
Genre I’d put it in: Captivating Oscar Bait
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on the Vulture/New Yorker article “The Hustlers at Scores”, by Jessica Pressler.
Gotta say: Damn this movie is watchable as hell. In fact, I’d say it’s the most audience-friendly awards-baity film that’s come around in quite a while. (Sit down, La La Land, your derivative ass still sucks.) This story about sisters (illegally) doing it for themselves is more a story about friendship and the power of female connection than the criminal activity that got them into trouble. Writer/director Lorene Scafaria does put lots of hotness onscreen – more on that in just a tic – but Hustlers doesn’t just pass the Bechdel test, it damn near aces the thing. These women don’t need no man, they’ve got each other. And oh yeah, lots of randos credit card information. Scenes where hustler supreme Ramona (Jennifer Lopez, reminding us of exactly how good a performer she truly is) and newbie Destiny (Constance Wu, ably getting blue post-Crazy Rich Asians) discuss their lives and motherhood? It feels as though we’re eaves-dropping onto conversations in real life.
The characters here feel authentically human; though they’re beyond gorgeous, that’s just one thing that happens to be going right for them. Their personal troubles, and successes, are shown, and the ladies strike up believable friendships. A scene where everyone is together for the holidays is so sweet and heartfelt I dare anyone not to root for these ladies. Special shout-out to Netflix/Marvel’s Wai Ching Ho as Destiny’s grandmother, who may be all about kicking it by the TV, but has her own stories to tell. I want to see so much more from this incredibly talented lady.
But back to the hotness in this thing. DAMN Y’ALL. These performers have serious game. Naturally, JLo dominates the stage with her moves, showing us she’s still got every single move she’s had since In Living Color. Hell, more even. My favorite scene is a group dance when [REMOVED FOR SPOILERS] and all the girls hit the stage. The choreography is all over the place in a good way, with the ladies working with each other to pull off the mother of all erotic entertainment. And y’all? Lizzo in a fishnet bodysuit with sequins pasties and that glorious hair flowing like a damn Amazon. She’s fucking perfection and yeah I meant to curse just now. In fact the costumes as a whole are unbelievably beautiful, being sexy without the harsh sluttyness many would end up patching together. And they’re Aughties specific, which will have anyone who hit the clubs back then get a bit misty. I’m just saying there are a few tops I wish I still had…maybe for the best they’re gone though.
As The Award Season Onslaught comes, we’ll be sitting through lots of “important” films “worthy of consideration”. Isn’t it nice to have one that’s absolutely worthy, tells a compelling story, and is a whole lot of fun to watch? Yeah, it is. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to crank some Janet Jackson.
#Protip: Read the piece that inspired this film right here. If you’re interested in where “Destiny” (aka Rosie) is now, read on here. Looks like she and Wu have struck up a friendship. But from what Karina Pascucci – the real life leader of the “hustlers”- has to say, she’s not happy with JLo or the film. (But damn; if someone cast JLo to play me, I’d be flattered as hell. Just saying.)