‘Hustlers’ shines with fantastic performances from stars



Brian Connors, Arts and Entertainment Editor

When the movie “Hustlers” was announced, audiences immediately labeled it iconic. A stripper flick starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Keke Palmer seemed like an instant recipe for success. Well, the recipe has been prepared and I am happy to report that the film is every bit as gratifying as audiences had hoped.

“Hustlers” follows Wu’s Dorothy, a New York City private dancer starting work at a new club. Dorothy, also known by her stage name “Destiny”, struggles to attract the attention of the club’s high-paying clientele. She reaches out to Lopez’s beautiful, experienced Ramona in order to turn her act around and make more money.

The 2008 financial crisis throws the entire exotic dancing business for a loop when the wealthy, Wall Street businessmen no longer frequent the clubs. In order to keep the money flowing, Dorothy and Ramona develop a scam to drug rich, powerful men and coerce them into maxing out their credit cards.

Inspired by true events, the movie becomes a thrilling, sexy crime drama capturing the essence of female empowerment, greed, friendship and the surprising vulnerability of the average, erotic performer.

The movie thrives off the performances of its actresses. Jennifer Lopez steals the spotlight with a jaw-dropping pole dance in beginning of the film and never gives it back. KeKe Palmer and Lili Reinhart are delightful as Mercedes and Annabelle respectively, two strippers involved in Ramona’s scam. Their comedic timing is impeccable.

Singers Cardi B and Lizzo are featured in small, stripper roles and bring a fresh sense of fun whenever they are on screen. Ex-stripper Cardi feels right at home and had the audience cackling at every little quip.

The plot of “Hustlers” is interesting and the pacing is smooth. It’s intriguing to understand how the stock market crash affected this industry and how these woman’s lives were changed. Its comedic moments are complimented by raw moments of drama. I certainly would not be surprised for the film to be in contention in this upcoming awards season.

Every single moment of “Hustlers” was captivating; I could not keep my eyes off the screen. The strip club scenes were sexy, classy and crazy. The softer moments of character reflection were equally as rewarding. A scene where the makeshift family celebrates Christmas is so wholesome and brings a smile to your face.

Surprisingly, the ending is wholesome as well. The latter half of the movie puts the scamming strippers through the ringer and as a result, the levity of the final scene pleasantly surprised me.

Overall, “Hustlers” was a movie that I could not recommend enough. It had an exciting plot, a killer cast and a dope soundtrack. The movie takes from 2007 to the early 2010’s so the score is filled with throwback bops. Also, a surprise cameo by Usher is one of the film’s highlights.

Going to see “Hustlers” should be at the top of your to-do list. It gives insight into women who work in the sex work industry and as audiences predicted, it’s so damn iconic.