Hustlers Review

Strip clubs – we’ve all been to them and we’ve all hated them.

Whether you’re on a stag do surrounded by somebody else’s mates or you’re sat all alone on a rainy Monday night drinking yourself into oblivion and wondering where it all went wrong.

Just me?

There’s no getting away from it – strip joints are usually seedy, depressing and miserable places to set foot in, but not if it’s 2007 and J Lo is shaking her assets in your face.

Hustlers is the new crime, comedy-drama directed by Lorene Scafaria and starring Jennifer Lopez as an exotic dancer who comes up with a plan to steal money out of her rather gullible clients after the financial crash of 2008 leaves the stripping industry bottomed out.

This rather dubious hustle involves lap dancers fishing a client, drugging them, stealing their credit card and maxing it out at the club before sending them on their way, safe in the knowledge that the embarrassment of admitting how much they spent watching women take their clothes off will keep their hustle secret.

The ensemble cast is excellent and Lopez was born to play the role of queen bee pole dancer Romana, a strong and fierce woman in control of her own sexuality and dominating the leering men who shower her in dollar bills during her memorable entrance.

Constance Wu feels both sassy and vulnerable as newcomer Destiny and a couple of memorable cameos from Cardi B and Usher add to the star value of the film without taking anything away from the rest of the cast.

Although it’s hard to pick holes in a true story, the casual stereotypes gnawed at me.

There’s the asian one who wants to take care of her elderly grandmother, the black one who’s boyfriend’s called Dragon and is locked up in jail, the white one who ran away from home after her family disapproved of her stripping, and then there’s the latin one who’s sassy, strong and juggles her own desires with being a mother for her daughter.

Couple this with the constant stereotype of every man on the planet being highly misogynistic, sexist, racist, gullible and only thinking with their balls and Hustlers can feel a little clichéd.

The term ‘empowering women’ gets used a lot, but is stripping, stealing and hustling instead of caring for your family and living within your means a message of empowerment? The single parent issues Destiny and Romana must encounter are almost entirely glossed over.

Our hustlers seem to justify their crimes by saying that the men who work on Wall Street are all criminals anyway, so why should they be any different – a very vague justification for what essentially is large scale criminal activity.

It seems like a skewed perspective to me.

As a knockabout crime comedy, Hustlers works very well and I enjoyed it as just that. But I just can’t get on board with this film on a deeper level.

Our heroines at times come across as greedy, vacuous and incredibly selfish, so I can’t agree with the female empowerment label the filmmakers want to insist upon.

So sit back and enjoy the acting, the costumes, the jokes and the crime caper – but role models these Hustlers ain’t.

Andrew Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2019