Real-life, loss, humor, feminism, Juicy Couture and Jennifer Lopez are just a few ingredients put into the highly anticipated, and now acclaimed, film “Hustlers” that make it well worth the buzz.
The film is based on the 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores,” by Jessica Pressler which of course doesn’t translate to a biography, contrary to some theories about the film on the internet.
The film starts with Constance Wu’s character Dorothy (a.k.a. Destiny) sitting down with a journalist named Elizabeth, played by Julia Stiles, to discuss from the beginning how Dorothy went from barely being able to support herself and her grandmother to driving and wearing luxurious brands and eventually scamming the men of Wall Street out of millions of dollars.
The plot begins with Dorothy working at “Moves” bringing in significantly less cash than her coworkers. *Insert the wild Jennifer Lopez pole performance here*, where we first meet her character Ramona, who is the complete opposite of Dorothy.
Dorothy is timid and softspoken. Ramona is vocal, seductive, and the most popular dancer at the club. The two women have their first of several bonding moments while sharing a cigarette on the rooftop of “Moves”.
This point is where the audience is introduced to Cardi B’s Diamond and Lizzo and Trace Lysette’s characters.
We then begin to see the keys and fruits of Ramona’s success. The keys of confidence and sociability; the fruits being able to care of her daughter in a luxury penthouse. With the aid of Diamond “from the Bronx,” Dorothy begins her transition into a more aware version of Ramona.
The film flashes between 2015, when Stiles’ character interviewed Dorothy and Ramona, and 2007 to 2014, when major events happened. One of them being the Great Recession of 2009.
Everything that happens from 2009 forward becomes the focal point of the film and pushes the movie to be the timepiece needed.
Unlike other films that focus heavily on the 2009 financial crisis, “Hustlers” uses a fresh and much-needed perspective. As an alternative to putting the problems of white men in stiff suits in viewers' faces again, the women whose incomes come from those very men are put into consideration.
Audiences see the women of this movie go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows as their lifestyles changed in the blink of an eye because of men who held too much power over them. Audiences also see those same women reclaim their power from those same men in the best way that they know how.
Though the means were definitely illegal, the power of these women was felt in the long run.
The character of Ramona is painted as someone who has a maternal instinct that is to protect every woman she comes across, young or old. Dorothy, by the end of the movie in scenes with Elizabeth, is out to convince Elizabeth and herself that Ramona always had ulterior motives and only wanted to manipulate the other women.
Dorothy is constantly asking “what else” Ramona said about her to justify her assassinating Ramona’s character and motives. She soon finds the only person guilty of character assassination is herself.
Dorothy says from the beginning that she just wanted her independence to take care of those that she is responsible for. She stays true to that while for the most part not hurting anyone else in the process.
There is not much more to the character of Dorothy beside her being the business and book smart to Ramona’s street savvy. There is good reason for critics to see an Oscar in Jennnifer Lopez’s near (2020) future.
“Hustlers” is anything but a stereotypical “stripper movie”. Sure Mercedes, Keke Palmer’s character, is a stripper with a drug dealer boyfriend in and out of jail. Also, Lili Reinhardt’s Annabelle is a young white woman whose family kicked her out and stopped speaking to her due to her line of work.
However, the fact that these are commonly seen troupes in Hollywood doesn’t take away the fact that these are plots based on real peoples’ real lives.
Ramona ended the film by pointing out a long-overlooked fact about America - it is one big strip club, “You got people tossing the money and people doing the dance”.
Someone, please put this on the cover of a high school history book.