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Film Review: Hustlers (2019)

Hustlers (2019) is an American crime drama which is based on the New York article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler. Pressler wrote the screenplay alongside director Lorene Scafaria, and this film stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart. When the 2008 financial crisis occurred, Dorothy (Wu) and Ramona (Lopez) find themselves in a situation where they have to come up with a dangerous and illegal scheme in order to make a living.

Hustlers (2019) – source: STX

The main thing that everyone is talking out coming out of this film is the acting, particularly with Jennifer Lopez. She steals the screen every single time she comes on, and her role is much more than just a acting role but a physically demanding one as well. Her pole-dancing sequence at the start of the film looks effortless, and that is seriously impressive for someone her age. However, I also want to highlight Constance Wu as the star of the film and manages to create a multi-dimensional character with so many emotions and play so many angles excellently.

This film is a lot more than just watching women strip and take money from men, there are several layers to this story and it was the drama of it that felt compelling to me. This is a great subject matter for a film, and it is cool to see a story like this flipped to a woman’s perspective of power. The film balances a sense of feeling emotion for the characters and the situations that they find themselves in (particularly for Dorothy), but also having the audience realise that they were not good people in these situations and we should not be on their side.

There is quite a lot of style in this film, which I appreciated. This film is gorgeous to watch on so many different levels, and that is thanks to Scafaria’s direction. The production and costume design is beautifully done, the cinematography is stunning and the editing flows really well from shot to shot. There are entire sequences, particularly at the start, which are done in one single shot and it really places you in the scene at that moment, and I appreciate that.

Hustlers (2019) – source: STX

I found that the supporting cast were well utilised, even if they could have been fleshed out a little more. Lili Reinhart shows here that she is a really good actress when given a strong script, and Keke Palmer has so much energy and personality oozing out of her. It is Wai Ching Ho though as Dorothy’s grandmother who gives such a fun and lovable performance, and I would have loved to have seen even more of her on screen.

This film does have some issues though, and a lot of that comes to the script and the pacing. For me, this film spends a lot of time setting up the exposition, and along with that the action on screen gets repetitive. The vast majority of the first hour of the film takes place in a single nightclub, which could have worked if they changed up the stuff that was taking place there. If they had gotten into the main plot of the story a little quicker, then the story could have been fleshed out further and given more impact to the actions that did happen from thereon.

I also found all the celebrity appearances and cameos to be either wasted or forced. Out of the three main ones, Lizzo was the one that I was okay with, but it felt so small and unnecessary. I found Cardi B’s role to be distracting and it took me out of the film, just as the surprise cameo did as well. I will not tell you who the cameo is as it is not advertised, but it was a fun little presentation that unfortunately just felt forced and did nothing for the film overall.

Hustlers (2019) – source: STX

This film has turned out to be a genuine surprise for me, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. With fun performances, a great style and a real dramatic story, this was packaged up well and I would recommend checking it out, even if you think it is not going to be your sort of film. It is way more than what the adverts made it look like.


Have you had a chance to see Hustlers yet? Did you enjoy it like I did, or did you want more grit and drama from it? Let me know in the comments below and let’s have a discussion.

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