Jennifer Lopez Turns the Tables in Hustlers

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Jennifer Lopez Turns the Tables in Hustlers

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Hustlers is one of those movies falls into the ambiguous category of crime movies. It is a reverse Wolf of Wall Street with an Ocean’s 8 feel and a dash of Goodfellas thrown in for good measure. The result is a delightful mixture that gives a solid high. It leaves you feeling a bit confused, with a lighter wallet, but certain that you got your money’s worth.

Loosely based on a true story, the film follows Constance Wu as Dorothy, a novice exotic dancer struggling to support her loved ones and yearning for that rarest of commodities in 21st century America: financial independence. Wu’s character is soon taken under the wing, or rather fur, of a seasoned veteran of the trade, named Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Dorothy quickly picks up the tricks. However, we rarely get to see her in action relative to Lopez, offered by Ramona and Cardi B in a fantastic but almost too on-the-nose cameo. For a while, things are great in the heady years of the early 2000s. Wall Street brokers flow into the club to destress after a long day of trading subprime mortgages (see The Big Short) and money flows from their pockets into Dorothy’s. Then 2008 hits like the hangover from one of Ramona’s Ketamine and MDMA cocktails and the whole world wakes up to find its credit cards maxed out. The clubs dry up and our not-so-heroic heroines come up with a brilliant plan – screw the people who screwed the world’s economy, without actually having to screw them. So begins their scheme to separate the Wall Street fools from their money by drugging them and separating them from their credit cards.

The film does not dwell on the morality of this, and I will not lie, neither did I while I was watching. There are generally three ways to avoid having to deal with the morality of characters carrying out reprehensible acts in a film: make the protagonists so charismatic that we cannot help but root for them, make the victims of their crimes seem deserving of their misfortune, or make the acts seem relatively harmless. Hustlers mixes all three. While there is one notable case in which the victim is portrayed somewhat sympathetically and faces real harm as a result of being fleeced, the majority of our protagonist’s prey are portrayed as rich entitled jerks who can afford to be taken and whose ruin tickles the right anti-capitalist happy spots.vLopez’s force of personality outshines everyone. All in all, Five out of Five.

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