Like Robin Hood and his merry men, this gang of strippers steal from the rich and spread the wealth amongst themselves and their families. Hustlers — starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu — hit theatres last weekend. The film follows canny strip club employees who steal from Wall Street tycoons to fund their own lavish lifestyles.
Underneath the glitter, heavy makeup and eight inch pumps, there is a heartfelt storyline that is the true highlight of this film. Lopez perfectly portrays a tough-love motherly figure, Ramona. Destiny (Constance Wu) befriends Ramona looking for a mentor to teach her how to dance, act, seduce men and most importantly, how to make money. Their hustle becomes more lucrative and more dangerous as they start drugging Wall Street men in an effort to max out their credit cards at the bar and transfer money straight into their accounts.
Lopez shines in this movie. She stuns in every scene; her character controls the screen from her mesmerizing strut into the club to her stone cold stare and her infectious confidence. Lopez’s performance is intoxicating because it is so genuine and unapologetic. She completely owns her character’s raunchy, sexy side while simultaneously acting as a businesswoman, maternal figure and ring leader.
Wu is a force to be reckoned with as well. She is far from just Lopez’s sidekick; her character is strong willed and dead set on being successful and independent. She begins as a shy stripper, nervous around her clientele until, with the help of Diamond (Cardi B) and Ramona, she rises to the top at her club. Wu’s performance is stunning, filled with emotion and confidence. Her development from an innocent protagonist just looking to make a buck to a hustling, rogue stripper truly highlights Wu’s wide ranging acting abilities.
Along with the stand out performances by Wu and Lopez, the inclusivity that was blended seamlessly into Hustlers was the real knock-out. Director Lorene Scafaria broke down the traditional stereotypes around Asian, transgender and plus size actresses. These aspects of the characters did not dictate their personas; they were strippers that happened to be transgender or plus sized but those were not their defining characteristics. They were defined by their humour, their hustle and most notably, their talent. The band of strippers function like a family, while embracing their diverse backgrounds. This was an admirable touch to the movie, highlighting the importance of diverse representation on the big screen.
Hustlers was an impressive homage to sisterhood, diversity and what it takes to make money in America. Ramona puts it perfectly at the end of the film analogizing America as one big strip club: here are those who throw cash and those who dance for it.