Inspired by Jessica Pressler’s 2015 New York Magazine article, Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers is an energetic and refreshing tale of greed, sex and excess. When Romona (Jennifer Lopez), a former centerfold turned exotic dancer, decides to take new girl Destiny (Constance Wu) under her wing the pair become inseparable. Teaching Destiny how to reel in top tier Wall Street patrons who frequent the club, Ramona’s pupil begins enjoying life in the fast lane. However, when the 2008 financial crisis hits, and funds become scarce, the women devise a dangerous, but lucrative plan, to hustle unsuspecting men out of large sums of money.
Featuring stellar performances from its star-studded cast – which includes Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Mercedes Ruehl, Cardi B and Lizzo – Hustlers is a pure delight. Scafaria constructs a tale of con artists that crackles with drama and wit. What makes the film standout amongst its peers in the genre is the way Scafaria uses the women’s plight to highlight the toxic masculinity eroding society. Women like Ramona and Destiny are the product of corrupt men who can bankrupt the economy, and exert power over women, without any repercussions.
Displaying the thin line between the Wall Street hustle and the strip club hustle, Scafaria forces the audience to question who the real villains are? Bouncing from neon drenched clubs to pristine luxury apartments, Hustlers weaves an entertaining examination of friendship, deceit and power. Others may have established the rules, but these women are changing the game.
Sunday, September 8, Ryerson Theatre, 6:00 PM