Telling the story of a group of strippers who turn to conning or robbing their clients after the Wall Street collapse Hustlers is a film generating a lot of buzz at the moment.
And deservedly so, what could have easily come across as an uninteresting and unoriginal crime film, instead makes this a powerful and rich story of friendship. Hustlers is framed through an interview that former stripper Destiny, played by Constance Wu, is giving in 2014 about the previous events. We begin with her meeting experienced stripper Ramona Vega, played by Jennifer Lopez, who takes Destiny under her wing, and mentors her in the best way to make money in the industry. This is the core friendship that drives the film forward.
Both Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez deserve a lot of plaudits for their performances. Wu does a wonderful job of showing Destiny’s chance in character over the film. From the meek and reserved person we meet at the beginning, to the driven leader who is the boss of their criminal enterprise. Lopez’s performance has, I think, surprised a lot of people given that she hasn’t done a really noteworthy film in quite a while. But she absolutely commands every scene that she’s in here. The work she put in to the dancing is also incredibly impressive, with a spectacular pole routine near the start of the film, that would be incredibly physically demanding.
Together their chemistry is fantastic, both as a mentor and mentee relationship, but for the bulk of the film as what is essentially a sisterly relationship. when you add in Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart as the other originator of the groups scams, then the core cast is fantastic. Reinhart in particular adds a different dimension to the group as one main comedic performers in the film. I don’t think the humour will work for everyone, but I enjoyed those moments of levity.
On the whole Hustlers was a wonderful exploration of the friendship between these two women, and setting it to a very entertaining crime film works brilliantly. I was surprised at the strong buzz around the film before I saw it, but it was certainly merited, although maybe the Oscar talk is a little too far.