“A True Movie For Our Era”: The First Reviews For ‘Hustlers’ Are In
Critics are already hyping J-Lo's performance as award-winning.
Hustlers, the stripper heist film based off a true story starring J-Lo, Cardi B, Lizzo and Constance Wu, has made its debut at TIFF. Judging by early reviews, it’s much more than the summer blockbuster it’s been hyped as, being called “one of the best movies about American money in recent memory.”
Hustlers is based off a viral New York Magazine article from 2015 by Jessica Pressler, which told the story of several New York strippers who, in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis, turned to drugging wealthy clients and using their credit cards.
#Hustlers begins with Janet Jackson's control. Everything that happens after is a fight for just that. I wasn't expecting the harmonious blend of sex workers struggling to survive the '08 crash & investment bankers surviving the wildest night of their lives. Magnificent. #TIFF19
— Joelle Monique ✍🏾 (@JoelleMonique) September 8, 2019
The film, directed and adapted by Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler, Ricki and the Flash), centres on Dorothy, a single mother who returns to stripping after struggling to find work in post GFC climate. Frustrated by the lack of cash flow, she partners with Ramona (Lopez), who teaches her how to make a bit more money.
Not surprisingly, it’s a lot of fun — especially the cameos by Lizzo and Cardi B — but the reviews highlight how well the film balances out the weight of the film’s context.
#HUSTLERS was a JOY. Jennifer Lopez is a BEAST. Cardi is a natural talent. Seeing a movie like this with a woman (Lorene Scafaria) behind the camera gave it such a different energy than you traditionally get in a genre men like Soderbergh and Scorsese have made their own.
— Ira thee Third (@ira) September 8, 2019
“We feel the party of the film, but also never forget its dire gravity,” writes Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson. “There’s a stunning (and surprising?) emotional core burning at the centre of the film, like a sparking fuel cell. Scafaria jaunts forward and backward in time, lays out exposition and detail in a clamouring patter. Things still feel controlled, though; there’s a purpose and method to this music-filled madness. For how fun Hustlers is, it also knows its own darkness.”
The Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s depiction of stripping and sex work, saying it “somersaults past any stigma” by “emphasising how the main characters are run-of-the-mill American workers regardless of their particular job.”
HELL YES #HUSTLERS, a funny, sexy movie that exalts female bodies and friendships, strength and gaze. @JLo’s entrance is onscreen dance canon. lots of recent films try to do “ladies behaving badly” right; imo this is the only one that does, and while celebrating them. #TIFF19
— Ashley Lee (@cashleelee) September 8, 2019
“It’s not about convincing anyone that stripping is empowering or disempowering, or that hustling is or isn’t wrong; it’s about all the gray areas in between.”
The Guardian‘s Benjamin Lee agrees, writing that “Scafaria views the strip club like any other workplace, filled with internal politics and an ever-changing hierarchy of power. It can be intimidating for sure, but there’s also a genuine camaraderie between a group of women who realise that combining their talents makes them that much more powerful.”
And while The Guardian say the film loses steam towards the end (“Often the mechanics of true crime tales aren’t quite cinematic enough and as the plan falls apart, Scafaria’s film almost follows.”), but returns to its height for the finale.
There’s a shot in #Hustlers of JLo laying down luxuriously wearing a bikini and a floor-length fur coat, smoking a cigarette, that is the single greatest shot of all time PERIODT.
— Zeba Blay (@zblay) September 8, 2019
Across all reviews, the cast — which also includes Keke Palmer, Riverdale‘s Lili Reinhart, and, Julia Stiles as a reported based off Pressler — are praised, though J-Lo’s performance has been celebrated as award-worthy.
“The film really, truly belongs to J-Lo,” writes The Guardian. “Blessed with one of the most memorable entrances in recent cinema history (pole-dancing to Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ and met with a swarm of money), Lopez slinks through Hustlers with a deceptive ease, as in control of the film as her character is of her situation. It’s the sort of role that only a true movie star could pull off, so much of it reliant on a rare, intoxicating magnetism.”
You could build a genuine, competitive Best Supporting actress campaign around J.Lo in #Hustlers. It’s a combination of her performance being THAT good & “it’s time” movie star capability.
— Maria Lewis (@moviemazz) September 7, 2019
Vanity Fair sums up the consensus: “Yes, it is the cool stripper-robber movie with the awesome cast. But it’s also a true movie for our era, teeming with the confusion and yearning and risk of life right now.”
Hustlers is out in Australia October 10, watch the trailer below.