Hustlers tells the true story of a group of women, most of whom worked together at a strip club, that take advantage of past clients who most just happen to be Wall Street big shots post-2008 crash. Desperate to pay bills and keep up their lifestyles, they come up with the plan to drug the men and drain their credit cards. Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star as the brains of this crime family. Lorene Scafaria writes and directs this feature based on Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article about the crime.
The film places its viewers on the wrong side of the law as these women convince themselves and us that their victims deserve what happens to them, since they were the ones that brought down Wall Street. Even as they start the drugging, it still feels deserved, especially as the burn from the crash still shows in our shriveled 401K’s. The story is played out as Wu tells their story to a journalist (Julia Stills). Scafaria takes into this gritty world, painting it as glamorous as anything from Scorsese or Coppola.
Jennifer Lopez gives a raw and real performance creating Romona, the stripper who had claimed her share of the pre-crash riches but still wants more, and Constance Wu as the up and comer who makes us want to see these women succeed. Taking place years before the “Me Too” movement, these women were making men pay (literally) for their crimes well before the rest of the world had caught on. The film has a great look and feel, and rated R for obvious reasons. It’s about time to see a story that’s not about men getting away with whatever they want. The ladies get their chance at the big payoff even if it ends in disaster.
Swanner: 3 stars