HUSTLERS is THE BIG SHORT for working class women - a film about what happens when people dependent on the trickle-down effect of boom-era money turn desperate in the post-Lehman Brothers economy. It stars CRAZY RICH ASIANS' Constance Wu as naive Destiny, who is schooled in the art of making phat cash through stripping by smart, cynical Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). The game is to target uber-wealthy Wall Street bankers and flatter and twerk them into spending big. Then the crash happens. Destiny tries marriage and motherhood but comes crawling back to New York and Ramona. Only this time they have to pro-actively fish for their prey - luring in men from bars with the promise of the night of their life. And when that proves irksomely slow-going, drugging them, stealing their credit cards, and threatening them with blackmail if they go to the police. This being a morality tale, it isn't that easy, especially when Ramona starts taking chances of her accomplices and clientele. But the provocative question this films asks is how far the women really deserve to be punished when the people they are ripping off already ripped off the entire economy?
The result is a film that is smart and thoughtful alongside it's dazzling dance numbers featuring an absurdly athletic J-Lo. In a performance to match her best, she and her colleagues show us the truth about stripping. Indeed, the first ten minutes of this film is one of the most depressing I've ever seen. And then we get a star-studded cameo of girls in a dressing room discussing the absurd expectations men who date strippers have - made all the more real by the fact that Cardi B used to be a stripper. It's rare to see such an unflinching female-centric movie at all. And even more rare to have that truthfulness play out amidst enough glitz and glamour to leaven its political agenda. Nicely done, all involved.
HUSTLERS is rated R and has a running time of 110 minutes. It played Toronto 2019 and was released last year. It is now available to rent and own.