Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart
Director: Lorene Scafaria
There is a moment in Hustlers when Lopez, her golden-brown skin bathed in neon lights, sheathed in a tiny sequinned G-string and a giant fur coat, enjoying a leisurely smoke on the roof of a strip club, opens the folds of her jacket to nestle a new girl in. That brief scene, warm and hot, all at the same time, could have been this film. About women who have bent the rules of the game their way, while holding each other up.
The clip between Lopez’s Ramona and Wu’s Destiny slips in while we are still breathless from the exhilaration of watching Lopez do a turn around a strip pole. It’s a bold and uninhibited performance as Ramona swirls, climbs, slides, twirls and almost flies around that steel, while the jaws of the audience drop and the dollars pour in. This role of a sexy performer is perfect for the actor with undeniable charisma, and Lopez owns Hustlers from that moment.
But the film is too timid to return the generosity. Inspired by a New York Magazine article about a group of strippers who managed to con Wall Street guys for a couple of years running, this film written and directed by Scafaria wants its women to be “cons” but for all the “right” reasons — a child to support, an ailing grandmother, an imprisoned fiancee, unsupportive parents. Nothing wrong with having them aspire for furs, pearls and diamonds, but Louboutins really do not go well with Lehmann Brothers if your message is “greed is bad”, especially of the Wall Street kind.