This is going to be a difficult movie to review. Not because I don’t have clearly defined thoughts on it, not because I disagree with the consensus between both critics and audiences, it’s because this review is supposed to be family friendly and there were so many opportunities for jokes relating to the characters professions. So, I will attempt to make as little of said jokes as possible, but I think I can get can get the more inappropriate ones stripped off the list.
Gosh dang it.
Anyway, Hustlers is a film starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, and Cardi B for some reason, about a group of former strippers who drug Wall Street men to make a fortune and support their materialistic lifestyle. I can’t deny that even though I was excited for the film that I was pretty surprised when the film was getting positive reviews.
Then the reviews were even better than positive, they were calling the film a phenomenal, empowering film with an Oscar worthy performance from J-Lo. After seeing it myself, I can definitely say it’s a good movie with an Oscar worthy performance, but I slightly disagree with the critics on parts of Hustlers. No more wasting time, let’s talk about Hustlers.
So, to start off, the best part is the leading performance, but not from Jennifer Lopez. Constance Wu as Dorothy is currently in contention for what I think is the best performance by a Leading Actress (I mean, she’s really only up against Beanie Feldstein, but it’s still pretty interesting) as Wu delivers such a raw performance.
Yeah sure, J-Lo is great as ringleader Ramona, but Wu has so much more emotion in her role. Looking back, the main thing that makes me think Wu was better is a scene from about the middle of the film where Wu and Stiles are sitting in a house and Wu begins to discuss a recurring nightmare she has. The pure feeling that she is pouring into that scene is breathtaking. I should also probably talk about Lopez and how good she is. She’s really good, but really? An Oscar? I would put her more on par with Bryce Dallas Howard in Rocketman. A really good performance, but it’s not quite Oscar worthy.
Next to talk about is the look and design of the film. Avoiding the extremely obvious joke about how I was a big fan of the costume design, this film looks amazing. The club Moves is this glossy club that is just really well designed. I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to what clubs such as those look like on the inside, but from what I saw, the flashy style and bright lights made for a feast for the eyes. The “Private Rooms” also look incredible with the golden glow and the fancy leather couches.
It all looks really great. The places they live in are also these amazing glamourous locales that are a sight to behold. Also, going off the look of the film, I also really liked the cinematography and editing in the film. The “adult” scenes are all well shot, but there’s a montage in a completely separate bar that I really enjoyed from an editing standpoint. Also, the cinematography is really great in places. Do we have a few scenes of the good ol’ “Shot-Reverse Shot”, but there are a few scenes that make it feel like you’re right there with them, and I really liked that.
Those are really all the positives that I really have. The rest of the cast is good, it’s well written, but there is one thing that I want to talk about regarding the story. It’s a good story, the fact that it’s a true one makes it all the more interesting. However, my one problem with it is that we have seen this kind of thing before. We’ve seen the “Women turn the tables on the men who wronged them and others” a lot, and while this is one of the better incarnations of that story, it doesn’t really do too much, aside from the set design and acting, to differentiate itself from other movies like it that have come before.
There is also an argument to be made about how it’s basically a reverse Wolf of Wall Street. The only real thing that’s preventing it from being a role swap version is that there’s less cocaine and swearing, and that I like Wolf of Wall Street better. Hustlers is still telling a good story, but nothing elevates to a higher tier of film.
So those are my thoughts on this film Hustlers, and I honestly really liked it. Great lead performances, nice cinematography, and some cool characters usually make for a pretty good film. However, I can’t call it “One of the best movies of the year” like I’ve heard a lot of people say so far. The kind of average storytelling prevents it from hitting that high mark. I do recommend the film, as it is a well made one that I’m sure we’ll see when Awards season comes around, but I’m guessing it won’t win too many awards, and that’s the Naked truth.