Hustlers not only proves Constance Wu’s star power, but why Jennifer Lopez has been in the entertainment business for decades.
|Screenplay By||Lorene Scafaria|
|Genre(s)||Crime, Drama, Comedy|
|Good If You Like||
|Dorothy (Destiny)||Constance Wu|
|Nana||Wai Ching Ho|
Plot Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)
Dorothy, who later changes her name to Destiny, is just struggling to make ends meet. Her nana is struggling to pay the mortgage, she didn’t finish school, and in 2007, just like now, the minimum wage isn’t enough to live on. So, she is young, pretty, adaptable, so she decides to become a stripper. A task which she is okay at, but not a top dollar girl. That is until she gets involved with Ramona, a veteran. Someone who, alongside Diamond early on, helps Dorothy learn all the tricks of the trade.
However, fast forward to 2015 and that whole life is over. The 2008 stock market crash ruined the excess spending and while Dorothy found a man to take care of her for a while, by 2011 that was over. But, from 2011 to 2013, the reunited Dorothy and Ramona come up with a scheme that makes them hundreds of thousands of dollars. At least until they screw over the wrong man, Dorothy says too much, and the cops finally get a whiff of what they were doing.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- There are multiple scenes of vomiting in this film, so if you can’t deal with that, you may want to cover your ears and close your eyes whenever Annabelle is seen. Her vomiting is damn near a running gag.
- Lizzo and Cardi B do not play huge roles in the film. They are in and out within the first half hour.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- What was Ramona’s full story, as well as Mercedes?
- What happened to Diamond and Liz?
A Story About Women Of Color Told By Women Of Color
While Elizabeth might be reporting on Ramona and Dorothy’s story, she plays a minor role and doesn’t even get to narrate what is going on. Also, despite Annabelle being part of the team, she doesn’t have a large speaking role either. The whole story is from Ramona and Dorothy’s point of view, and the importance of that is to remind you Ramona and Dorothy were people. That their story, even if embellished for the sake of entertainment, likely to some degree, isn’t of the likes of Set It Off or films like that. It is a reminder of the desperation and splendor which comes with stripping.
Heck, it is a reminder that, for many women who didn’t have a certain amount of privilege, like Elizabeth, options are limited, and minimum wage isn’t enough. Hell, getting experience, even in retails, is hard. Even for Dorothy who is presents the rare representation of an Asian woman who is struggling. Mind you, she grew up in a house, but with her nana on the verge of losing it, it is made clear that she doesn’t fit the well to do stereotype East Asian people are often assigned to. She had to hustle just as hard as the Latin woman to survive.
Proves To You How Talented Constance Wu Is
With only watching a few episodes of Fresh Off The Boat and not being that impressed by Crazy Rich Asians, the bar for Wu was set low. However, Hustlers pushes the idea that, like many actresses, she is only as good as the script and isn’t someone whose talent, on its own, can punch up a shoddy production. So her going toe to toe with Lopez, even keeping up the energy when Lopez wasn’t on screen, that was applaudable.
Jennifer Lopez In Top Form
Jennifer Lopez primarily is known for romantic comedies, or just comedies in general, but let’s not forget Selena and Enough are in her filmography. Which isn’t to say, as others are pitching, this could be an Oscar-nominated role for her. Golden Globe? Maybe. Oscar? That would depend on Oscar season this year being very weak.
Which isn’t meant to come off as shade since Lopez makes this movie. She is what bridges all the personalities and becomes almost like a mother to all the girls, including Wu’s character. In one scene in particular, a funeral scene, Wu lays on Lopez’s lap and in Lopez’s presence, you can see Wu almost like a 16-year-old girl. Someone so vulnerable and seeking out Lopez’s strength. It is in that moment you realize Lopez is a veteran and while she may not deserve an Oscar, she deserves any and all praise which comes from her performance.
Hustlers has funny moments but isn’t the kind of comedy which tells joke. It is more so about one-liners that seem so authentic you are surprised they are being said, or what feels like genuine conversations. For example, Dorothy’s nana talks about a tryst she has with Frankie Valli which can cause little giggles, and while I can’t recall any moment with big laughs, I can guarantee you are at least going to smile at some of the antics seen. Especially by Keke Palmer’s character Mercedes, who exhibits that goofy side of Keke that has taken her so far in Hollywood.
Learning The Business Of Stripping
I’m not going to pretend I know anything about stripping or strippers since I’ve never stepped into a club. However, before the criminal element and the jokes are flowing, the movie breaks down how the game is played with such authenticity that if you was ever tempted to strip, you’d want to take notes. Be it how to give a lap dance, tricks to do on the pole, and even how to look at someone.
On The Fence
All Of The Cast Aren’t Treated Equally
While we learn everything you could want about Dorothy, everyone else the movie picks and chooses how deep they may go. Ramona, for example, we learn she has two sisters, and clearly has a high social intelligence, but she doesn’t really have much in the way of vulnerable moments. She perpetually has this masked on and while she gets frustrated, she never lets down her guard and lets the audience in.
As for the rest? We learn Annabelle was kicked out of the house for stripping and has brothers, Mercedes likes some man named Dragon, and Elizabeth comes from a well to do family. Tidbits, at best, but you may feel most characters aren’t explored beyond the role they played despite Dorothy interacting with them for years and making it seem they created a family together.
Hustlers (2019) Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)
In terms of entertainment value, Hustlers takes the cake. It’s funny, presents the kind of story we don’t see get actors and a decent budget, and there is a certain level of authenticity that feels rare. Add in performances from Constance Wu & Jennifer Lopez which definitely feel like they could remind people they are respectable actors, and this could be the beginning of a new era for both of them.
Hustlers (2019) Ending Explained
Despite all Ramona did for Dorothy, she turns on her the first sign there is trouble. Thus Ramona gets probation, Annabelle and Mercedes get limited prison sentences, and they all get probation. Which, considering we’re told they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, is a slap on the wrist. But, from what it seems, after the charges and sentencing, everyone disbanded. Leaving Dorothy, who now goes by Destiny, missing the woman who put her onto the game and as for Ramona? Well, despite what Destiny did to her, she misses her and keeps a picture of her in her pocketbook. Not as a reminder of what went wrong, but a reminder of the love she had for that girl.
Is A Sequel Possible?
The only thing a sequel could produce is an idea of what happened to the actual people the movie is based on. Did they ever reconnect or once it was over, it was over? Outside of that, everyone has seemingly moved on and likely aren’t trying to be as daring or greedy as they once were.