For films that gear on greed, sex, schemes and trust, Hustlers portrays all of these factors in a serious instead of a raunchy way like other films set in strip clubs. Hustlers is written in a similar fashion to Adam McKay’s The Big Short (2015). However, McKay is one of the producers and the screenplay writer and director is Lorene Scafaria who is still new to directing big feature films. Hustlers grabs viewers’ attention by looking back at the years when people were struggling with the 2008 market crash. It focuses on the business of stripping during that period and how some strippers found creative ways to make money and lives for themselves based on various schemes. It may be advertised as an enchanting movie with cute actresses, but it is a thrill ride of suspense and top-notch dialogue that is interesting and disturbing.
The film’s two main characters are Destiny and Ramona (who are played by Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez). They are both strippers, however Ramona is already at the top of her game and shows Destiny the ropes to making profits and becoming wealthy through stripping. When Destiny realizes that Ramona receives not only praise, but big money thrown at her consistently on the dance floor, Destiny becomes close friends with Ramona. She too then starts to slowly make it to Ramona’s level of popularity in the clubs. Destiny and Ramona come together to form a crew of other strippers who appeal to wealthy Wall Street clients. Those clients have no problem throwing tons of cash at the strippers, putting down their credit cards, and giving Destiny and Ramona what they truly desire because of how wealthy they are. Over time, Destiny and Ramona create a strategic plan to find the right clients and keep track of their credit card numbers. However, things start to spin out of control when the 2008 market crash hits and the clients fail to show up at the clubs anymore.
The film then turns into a rollercoaster ride that is haunting and compelling. Clients end up in the hospital, there is lots of betrayal, and Destiny is starting to lose her faith in Ramona because there are times when Ramona is avoiding the problems that Destiny is encountering. Many other challenges begin to arise, because if the authorities realize the tactics that Destiny and Ramona have used on their clients, they could face all kinds of complex legal issues.
The film is like watching The Big Short in terms of how it impacts the stripping business as opposed to the entire economy. I was intrigued by the outcomes with the main characters in the movie. There are moments that I expected and others that I did not expect. The theme of deception was pervasive. And, the decisions that Destiny makes does not just impact her well-being, but also impacts how she can ensure her daughter is in a safe environment. The question for viewers is who is more to blame? Is it Destiny or Ramona? Viewers will have to determine that once the movie comes to its climax and conclusion. I will give this one three stars.