Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Hustlers (2019)

Summary: Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.

Pros:

Cast and Characters.

  • Constance Wu as Destiny (real name Dorothy). She starts out the film as a new stripper in this new club. She’s super awkward, which I could not handle lol, it was so weird watching her trying to be sexy. I’m sure that was the point, but I was like oooo girl lol. But I liked Destiny. She was ambitious, wants to be independent and take care of her grandmother. She notices that Ramona is amazing at dancing, so she bravely asks for tips and they become friends to the point of destruction. It was great for the most part though. Constance Wu is great. She’s a great actress and whenever there was an emotional part, she had me going. It’s such a small thing but after the financial crisis hit, Destiny lost contact with Ramona and when she saw her again, her face shifted from like upset, frustration, sadness to relief in a span of like 3 seconds and it was so good. She was great in the film. I also loved the hospital scene when she turned on her fake acting really quick, so good.
  • Jennifer Lopez as Ramona Vega. I remember there was a lot of talk about her being snubbed for her role in this film for awards and I do agree this is one of her best acting roles. Different from what we’ve seen from her in a long time. She was really good. Her chemistry with Constance Wu for one was great. Also, with Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart. She was very motherly/sisterly to her young friends, especially in the beginning. When she started to get desperate for money and concocting plans, you could see the frustration and a little bit of madness in there, but she usually managed to maintain a composed outlook. It was great. One of her best scenes is towards the end when she is talking to Julia Stiles about the stuff, she keeps in her wallet no matter what. It was a small scene, but she was so good in it.
  • Keke Palmer as Mercedes. She was Ramona’s “little sister” before she met Destiny. We don’t get to know a ton about her other than she has a boyfriend named Dragon who is in jail and she won’t leave him even though she complains about him being in jail lol. I’ve always liked Keke Palmer and I wish we got to see more of her as a character in the movie. But I did enjoy what got to see of her.
  • Lili Reinhart as Annabelle. I know her from Riverdale and I very much enjoy her there. I at first thought she was going to be the “new Destiny” because we’re introduced to her through Ramona helping her the way she helped Destiny. But it didn’t quite turn out that way, which was nice. She seemed the most “vanilla” out of the group, in terms of she was less inclined to be quick at doing their plan. She seemed like the youngest and often freaked out when things started to go a little far. I liked her though. She was still gung-ho when she felt like it but also would be the first to dip out or maybe vomit lol. I like Lili Reinhart, she’s likable and it was nice to see her outside of Riverdale, especially in a major movie like this.
  • Julia Stiles as Elizabeth. She was a minor character and I’ve always liked her. She was the reporter talking to Destiny throughout the movie. She has great facial expressions when listening to Destiny’s story.

Money is the Root of All Evil. It is! Honestly, when you watch movies like this and see how some women make it and handle their business because they’re strippers, you go “hmm, I could do that” lol and I know there are women out there who make a lot of money stripping. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it if they are comfortable with it. However, since this movie is set in 2007-2008 when a financial crisis happened, a lot of people lost their jobs and couldn’t make money anymore. So, they came up with alternate and dangerous plans which led to problems. I mean, money solves a lot of problems, but it can also cause a lot of problems too which this movie clearly shows.

Camaraderie. I think one of the things this movie does best is show the backstage life of a stripper. Whenever we see them in real life or in other forms of media, they are just beautiful women dancing or whatever. But here, we got see them behind the scenes, teaching each other tricks, laughing, having a good time and being sisters. One of my favorite scenes is when Ramona introduces Destiny to the girls backstage and we meet Cardi B’s character, Lizzo’s and other dancers. It was fun. I like scenes like that. I also really liked the Christmas sequence because it was another moment of them showing love and being a family. Yeah, at this point they were doing some shady stuff but behind it all, they loved and respected each other. That was nice.

Downward Spiral. Another thing this movie handles well is showing how people can spiral or how things can get out of control. Sometimes you can’t handle how things suddenly turn sour and I thought the film managed to make it look very real, compelling and relatable, even with the kind of “loud” appeal the film has. The downward spiral for Destiny in her life and how unhappy she becomes when things fall apart, or even for Ramona how her morals begin to shift because of her need for more money. It’s all very desperate in different ways. The movie handled that really well.

Cons:

Connection to other characters. So, with Destiny being the one telling the story, there might be some disconnect because we’re seeing the world through her eyes. I guess because of Destiny’s attachment to Ramona, we got to connect more with her but we spend a lot of time with Mercedes and Annabelle and I wish we got to see a little bit more of the friendship (if there was a true one) between them and Destiny. I liked all four of them but there was a disconnect for me. They were integral but out of arm’s reach compared to Destiny and Ramona. Not to mention, Destiny gets a boyfriend and he was pretty much faceless even though he was important to her life. He literally came and went, and I was like wait what?? I would have liked to know him a little more too.

The Screenplay. Overall, I think the actors really elevated the material. While there are certain things that are handled in a mature way, there are also some instances, particularly in how other characters are handled, or how stupid some characters are even though they’ve proven how quick on their feet or smart they are previously. I think the script could have taken a few tightening in places. But because Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez do so well with their characters, it’s almost easy to overlook. If there were actors who aren’t as dynamic, or actors with no chemistry, it would have been more obvious. The actors really keep you invested.

Overall, it’s too bad I didn’t see this film when it came out because it would have made my best of 2019 list for sure. It’s a good movie. The acting is so good that it really elevates the movie and surpasses the script honestly. Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez really did their thing in this movie and it does suck that J. Lo was ignored during award season for her role. But they suck sometimes anyway so whatever. I really loved the friendship/sisterhood between these women, and it wasn’t just cutout of stripper types who are desperate for money. They are actual women with true problems, ambitious and needs. I liked how it handled money and how it affects human nature and portraying the realness of downward spirals. There isn’t much I didn’t like, but I thought the screenplay wasn’t as good as the final product and I attribute a lot of that to the acting and directing choices. I also wish we got to know Mercedes, Annabelle and Johnny (Destiny’s boyfriend) a little better since they all were important to the story, or to certain character’s stories. But I really liked this movie.

Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Have you seen Hustlers? What are your thoughts on it? Tell me in the comments below!

Also, what is your favorite Jennifer Lopez film? Tell me in the comments!

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