‘Hustlers’ is funny yet fleshed-out


Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) and Destiny (Constance Wu) manipulate and exploit Wall Street brokers to perpetuate their expensive life styles. IMDb website photo.

“Hustlers” is surprisingly profound and nuanced while displaying a compelling performance from the lead actresses.

Inspired by an article written by Jessica Pressler, “Hustlers” tells the story of how exotic dancers Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) and Dorothy (Constance Wu), a.k.a. Destiny, are able to live lavish lives by dancing for successful Wall Street brokers. However, when the 2008 financial crisis hits and Ramona and Destiny’s regular cliental dwindles, the two struggle to make ends meet and take drastic measures in order to support their families and maintain their expensive lifestyles.

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I felt that this would be another run-of-the-mill comedy that was all bone and no meat. I didn’t think that this film would have anything to say, narrative-wise. I wasn’t keen on seeing celebrities, like rapper Cardi B and singer-songwriter Lizzo, in supporting roles and I’m not a fan of anything Lopez has done in recent years. I thought “Hustlers” was going to bore me.

I was wrong.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I did so nonetheless. “Hustlers” was a lot more insightful and profound than I had anticipated.

Wu’s performance as Destiny showed not only the success a sex worker can achieve but also the harsh realities that they have to face on a day-to-day basis.

With “Hustlers,” sex workers are humanized sex workers and not judged by their negative stigma, specifically with Wu’s character, Destiny.

In the first half of the film, we see how Destiny struggles to pay bills and support her family as an amateur dancer. Destiny’s character immersed me into the film and made me connect with her character on an intimate and personal level.

In fact, that’s what I admired the most about this film: That it shows that sex workers have families to take care of, bills to pay and responsibilities to fulfill just like anyone else. “Hustlers” reminds us that sex workers are people, too.

While later in the film we see how Ramona and Destiny turn to crime to maintain their lifestyles and prey on rich men, I never felt that this film glorified or justified their actions.

Instead, this film highlighted that no one is perfect or superior to anyone else. I think that’s an important factor in the human condition that we need to be reminded of from time-to-time.

Wu’s performance as Destiny is one of the most compelling performances I’ve seen so far this year and exceeded any expectations I had going into this film. I truly believe that her performance is even Oscar nomination-worthy.

I went into this film expecting bland, overly-produced Hollywood garbage. When I left the theater, I was satisfied with what “Hustlers” had to say and how it delivered its message.

Not only is “Hustlers” growing on me as one of my favorite comedy-dramas of the year, but it’s also made me rethink how I should approach films of the same caliber as “Hustlers” in the future.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelOrtegaNews