Money-Maker: Hustlers is Shaky but Ends Strong
Divas devise a plan to get money after the 2008 recession
Lorene Scafaria's (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) Hustlers is clearly inspired by the works of Martin Scorsese and on occasion, it reaches those lofty ambitions. It is a fascinating story about friendship, ambition, and greed (almost The Wolf of Wall Street as told from the other side) that unfortunately stumbles in its initial execution. However, when the film hits the right marks, it is joyfully entertaining.
The story follows a group of strip club employees who suddenly find themselves on hard times after the 2008 recession leaves the club bereft of clients. Their fearless lead Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) devises a plan: go "fishing" for high-rolling Wall Street guys, get them drunk and proceed to run up their credit cards, taking a percentage of money for themselves. As the money rolls in, these savvy ladies enjoy the good life before greed and betrayal bring it all down.
The whole first act of the film is mostly a jumbled mess, with the director trying for a fast-paced Goodfellas-esque vibe that doesn't find its footing until too late. As the film moves along, however, things start to improve, with the final third being the strongest. It's there that the technical aspects really shine with some truly ingenious blocking and sound mixing. There are moments when Hustlers can be downright invigorating but it takes a while to get there and only the script and some strong performances (especially Lopez and Constance Wu) keep it from going completely off the rails before then. — Forest Taylor
Written and directed by: Lorene Scafaria // Based on the magazine article "The Hustlers at Scores" by Jessica Pressler // Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B, Trace Lysette, Mercedes Ruehl, and Usher // 107 minutes // Rated R