Believe it or not, manipulating other people in dishonest ways in order to get large sums of money from them – also known as hustling – isn’t a very good thing. In a type of story perfected by Martin Scorsese, Hustlers shows someone getting into a seemingly-glamorous and profitable lifestyle, only to realize the problems that you can run into once you get too deep.
Now, calling this movie a straight Scorsese knockoff would be selling it way short. I’m not here to call this the “Stripper Goodfellas.” That’s just not beneficial, especially in a year where Booksmart has tried to escape the shadow of Superbad. Hustlers is so much more than that.
It follows the relationship of two strip club employees – Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) and Daisy (Constance Wu) – as they give themselves the power over those in the audience night after night.
First off, the fact that it is written and directed by women is huge for what takes place on the screen. Even though the characters are framed in a way that their actions are being decried, it’s important to be on their side from the beginning. And as it is a movie about strippers, the casual views of the female bodies would seem much worse if it had been handled by a man. It was just refreshing to see a movie do this well, when it had the potential to go downhill quickly.
The real heart of this movie comes from the relationships. There are familial relationships and relationships that become like family. By the end, this is what makes the biggest emotional impact out of everything that happens. There is a good chance you could come away from this movie thinking about the economic ideas presented and the messages it wants to send about the types of people in those situations, and that would be completely valid. But the bigger message it wants to send is about what’s important in the intimate moments in your life.
With the central relationship between Ramona and Destiny being so prominent and fun, while producing so much of the plot, it’s easy to overlook everything else that’s going on in the movie. It’s sending a very personal message about what things are really important in life. When everything is stripped down, all that really matters is the people you have around you who you can count on.