Binge Break: Hustlers biggest asset is its heart

Hustlers opened this weekend with a story of struggle and the power of female friendship.


Kayli Reese, Managing News Editor

There are a lot of great things that can be said about Hustlers – the film based on the true story of a group of strippers who started drugging and stealing from rich men after the 2008 financial crisis – but it’s Jennifer Lopez who commands every scene.

The movie screen seemed to miss JLo every time she was off of it, and for good reason.

JLo plays Ramona, who takes younger women working at the club under her wing and eventually sets in motion the plan to drug and steal from the men of Wall Street. She’s calculated and ruthless in her revenge to steal from the men who “destroyed the country.” Yet she also radiates warmth, sucking in Constance Wu’s character Destiny into her orbit and extending a comforting hand to anyone down on their luck.

Wu spends quite a bit of the film staring at JLo in awe, which is completely understandable. The shot of JLo in a fur coat smoking on the roof of a strip club is instantly iconic, and she hasn’t been able to have this much fun showing off her talents in film since Selena. Every bit of award show buzz is completely deserved.

Even though JLo is in command, the story as a whole finds its beating heart in the bond between the women throughout the film. It tackles all of the issues that surrounded people in 2008 while still remaining relevant to the current decade, discussing single motherhood, the struggle to support oneself, and women taking control of their own narrative.

The women at the center – JLo, Wu, Keke Palmer as Mercedes, and Lili Reinhart as Annabelle – are definitely anti-heroes. Julia Stiles plays reporter Jessica Pressler, whose real article was the basis of the Hustlers plot, gives a priceless look to Wu after hearing about how the women slipped a drug mixture of their own making into men’s drinks.

But they’re the anti-heroes to root for, and the strong bond between them is what makes the movie. The ode to female friendship was unexpected; the trailers for Hustlers looked simply like one big party.

But it’s the scene at the end after the whole scheme is said and done, where Wu and JLo look at each other with understanding tears, that sum up the film. The friendship between women are some of the strongest bonds one can have in life; it’s a ride or die type of love, filled with the same laughter I hear when I’m with my friends. The core four women introduce themselves to the men they scam as sisters, and it’s always the most honest thing that comes out of their mouths.

Some other Hustlers scenes that stand out:

● Cardi B and JLo teaching Wu how to dance takes all the glamor and sexiness out of their work, showing how technically difficult it is and how strong a person needs to be to swing around a pole in heels.
● Lizzo playing the flute in a dressing room. Send tweet.
● The core four women celebrating Christmas together is incredibly heartwarming to watch as they eat a big family meal and squeal while opening gifts of fur coats and Louboutins.
● In an incredibly surreal 2007 moment, all of the clubs’ strippers rush out to dance when they hear Usher – yes, Usher playing himself – is there. As Usher throws around money, JLo’s character asks him his name, and his reply is “Usher, baby.” Actually, if I think about it, Hustlers is an amazing film for this scene alone.