Hustler’s; The Truth of the True Story

The movie poster for Hustlers that features Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Lili Reinhart with cameos of hip hop stars Lizzo and Cardi B. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Jumma)

Hustlers made its debut on the big screen halfway through September and has raised a variety of reviews since then. The true story details the life of Destiny, a hard-working stripper who works long hours to provide for the financial well-being of her grandmother — the person who raised Destiny when her mother decided she didn’t want a child anymore.

Destiny’s world changes when she meets Ramona — a favorite of the men at the club who seems to be earning triple of what Ramona earns in a night. Ramona coaches Destiny on her moves. Soon, Destiny starts bringing in the cash. But when the 2008 economic collapse cuts their profits, the girls have to find a more tactful way to survive. 

After the economic collapse, the number of clientele at the strip club begins to dwindle — there’s less money for the investment bankers to throw and less money for the dancers to earn. Many of the dancers have families to support and begin to grow desperate. Soon, Ramona devises a plan for the girls — to drug clients and thieve their credit cards. This technique becomes successful, and the girls have to outsource the work. 

Constance Wu, the actress from Crazy Rich Asians, plays the iconic role of Destiny and brings a charismatic, caring character, with unfortunate circumstances to life. Jennifer Lopez took on the role of Ramona and did an exceptional job at playing the ringleader of the group. Ramona is an experienced dancer who fights for the people she loves, and Jennifer Lopez’s passionate acting brings the troubled character to life. Lili Reinhart plays the role of Annabelle, another popular dancer at the club. Many other well-known Hollywood stars made cameos in the movie, including rappers Lizzie and Cardi B as well as hip hop legends Usher and G-Eazy. 

Hustlers earned an 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — a surprisingly high score for the harshly critical site. Countless critics have positive reviews about the movie as well. “Chris Rock famously said that ‘a father has one job: to keep their daughter off the pole’ [but] this movie could make that job a lot tougher,” said Tara McNamara for Common Sense Media

Other critics, like Ann Homaday for The Washington Post call Hustlers, “… funny, naughty and a kick in the pants.”  The audience is in agreement with critics, boasting a proud 76 percent approval rating with many comments on the artistic expression of female sexuality

In my opinion, Hustlers is an average movie. Going into the movie theater, I was expecting a movie with more depth. The topic is interesting enough and had the potential, but I was ultimately disappointed. I am all for the expression of female sexuality — something that isn’t expressed enough — and Hustlers did a phenomenal job of that. The characters embody the idea of being comfortable and proud with your own bodies, but the ending seemed rushed and incomplete, which diminished the natural flow of the movie. 

The trailer advertised the involvement of big-name musicians like Cardi B and Lizzo, but besides a few minutes on screen, the musicians were barely in the movie. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when the actresses danced. Jennifer Lopez’s skilled moves left the audience starstruck and her “dance class” with Destiny was a fan-favorite scene.  

Hustlers is based off an article called “The Hustlers at Scores” written by Jessica Pressler for The Cut. The article details the story of Roselyn Keo and Samantha Barbas in the late 2000s. Keo dropped out of high school at seventeen and became unsatisfied with her earnings as a waitress. She decided to become a stripper and Barbas quickly took Keo under her wing. Barbas came up with the plan to lure wealthy clientele into the strip club — she would drug them with MDMA and Ketamine — a combination that would boost their mood and wipe their memory. 

Although Hustlers has some risque themes, it shows the difficulties in the lives of exotic dancers and strippers. Ultimately, the movie itself could have been better, but the themes it presents are vital and deserve to be on the big screen. 


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