Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B, Keke Palmer, and Julia Stiles lead a dazzling cast in one of the most groundbreaking pop movies of the year. Starting from Jessica Pressler's magazine article about exotic dancers turning the tables on their thirsty clients, director Lorene Scafaria delivers an intoxicating cocktail of crime, sex, and money. But that's just the sizzle. The meat of HUSTLERS is its exploration of how male power shapes women's work. Until it doesn't.
Destiny (Wu) is still learning on the job — what to wear, how to lap dance, how to sell a fantasy of sexual availability to the men who flow into her club from their own daily hustle on Wall Street. Ramona (Lopez) is the undisputed queen dancer at the club. A former centrefold model, she's entirely level-headed about her expertise in whipping men into a wallet-emptying frenzy. But the money rolling in comes crashing to a halt with the financial crisis of 2008. As the mood in New York gets darker and each dollar earned more desperate, Ramona, Destiny, and their strip-club sisters cook up a new hustle — more dangerous, more lucrative, and most definitely more illegal.
Watched in the context of decades of gangster movies, HUSTLERS is both familiar and refreshingly different. These women do what screen grifters and goodfellas have been doing forever, but there's a bracing shock in the pleasure they take in making their own money, and keeping it. Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) brings real heart to Destiny's quest for independence, and Lopez reminds us in scenes both big and small what a strong, natural actor she is. Inspiring, empowering, and a whole lot of fun, HUSTLERS may just change the game.
★★★★ This is a deeply feminist film, one where men are given less screen time than the cameoing Cardi B and Lizzo. - Time Out
★★★★ It's meant as a compliment when strong females are called ballsy, but it would be truer to say that J-Lo's extraordinary creation is vagina-y. - London Evening Standard
An immediate entrant into the pantheon of female friendship movies, Hustlers-a pretty much perfect film-makes plain the hollowness of so many other iterations of girl power in studio projects. You can feel its heart beat. - Slate
"Hustlers" humanizes the women at its center, giving them boyfriends, backstories and, most importantly, agency. - Variety