Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
“This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You’ve got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance.” ~ Ramona
Inspired by a True Story
Destiny (Wu) is a mediocre stripper at best when she meets the legendary Ramona (JLo). When the pair meet on a rooftop late one night, Ramona graciously takes her under her chinchilla clad wing and agrees to show her a thing or two. The pair form a seemingly unshakeable bond which leads to a sassy double act that puts them both in an incredibly lucrative position.
Bouyed by the moves Ramona teaches her, Destiny is finally in a position to give her grandma the life she deserves. And although all Destiny really cares about is making Nana comfortable in her twilight years, she makes so much lovely money that she can afford to be a little bit extra. When she falls pregnant however, everything changes.
Losing contact with Ramona and her former lifestyle to become a mother takes its toll but when she hits rock bottom and bumps into her old friend again, it all comes back together. Ramona opens up her home to Destiny and her daughter – and things more or less return to normal. Until the great Wall Street crash.
In the wake of these tough times, the club becomes a ghost town and the girls are one by one replaced by a new breed of dancer. What are they to do when they’ve got bills to pay and kids to provide for?
Well, you kind of have an inkling of what comes next I imagine, given the trailer for this movie and the synopsis above. Ramona and two of her colleagues, Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) cook up a scheme to bring more business through the strip club doors. They’ll drug their most obnoxious clients and rinse them for all they’re worth. They bring in Destiny and the outfit is pretty darn slick. Especially since the ‘victims’ can hardly go to the police, even if they do suspect something’s amiss.
“We’re a family now. A family with money!” ~ Ramona
Everything is rosy until they bring in outside help, jealousies arise and the workmanship gets sloppy. Destiny suffers a massive loss and the friendship is rocked when the law comes knocking. Is there any way back to the glory days? More importantly, is there any way back for the girls?
I loved this. The rise and fall of the central characters is fascinating and it tells the true crime story in an effective way. I bought the friendship between Destiny and Ramona, which is more or less an unconventional love story. And despite their hurdles, despite their differences – I believe the love never died.
The movies is quite balanced in the sense that on one hand it justifies the actions of the women – who begin with only targeting their really disgusting clients – but on the other, lets us in on the consequences of their actions. One particular victim is pretty tragic and it is only when we meet him that I started to consider what they’re doing is very wrong. Also, I guess you can’t go round drugging people either, even the creeps.
The whole story unravels via an interview with journalist Elizabeth (Stiles) who has visited Destiny after the events are done and dusted. As her Dictaphone runs, so does D’s mouth as she tells her side of the story. But there’s sadness there and unfinished business – and it is very touching.
There’s an art house feel to Hustlers, the performances are top notch, the male characters are all secondary and it’s a lot of fun. The cameos are delicious, with an impressive turn from Cardi B and Queen of the moment, Lizzo – and Jennifer Lopez has never looked better. Sure, it’s no Showgirls but we all know nothing is.