Hustlers Review: Jennifer Lopez's Robin Hood role reversal act is devilishly pleasing

"This whole country is a strip club," Ramona exclaims in the last few minutes of Hustlers, and that's the ideology that director Lorene Scafaria literally took up as her motto. Giving the typical crime-drama genre a sexy striptease twist, Jennifer Lopez and crew concoct a devilishly pleasing 108 minutes.
Hustlers Review: Jennifer Lopez's Robin Hood role reversal act is devilishly pleasing Starring Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers releases in India on September 27, 2019.
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Hustlers

Hustlers Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu

Hustlers Director: Lorene Scafaria

Hustlers Stars: 3/5

Before strolling through the world of Hustlers, I had an extremely polarising expectation as to what the movie would be about. After 108 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. Yes, there's loads of striptease action and Jennifer Lopez to keep you hooked, but there's also an underlining modern revaluation of the working-class women. Stripping is not seen as an occupation to be looked down upon, it's just a job, like being an architect or even a doctor!

"The whole country is a strip club," JLo's Ramona exclaims while talking to journalist Elizabeth (Julia Stiles) about why she and her crew hustled Wall Street men for years, post the 2008 financial crisis. It's almost poetic that the same line is used as a motto by director Lorene Scafaria in this role-reversal crime drama where the women do the work, and the men are the objects to be played, or better yet, hustled with. Based on New York magazine's article "The Hustlers at Scores" by Jessica Pressler, Hustlers has its storyline featuring Constance Wu's Destiny as its narrator and kudos to cinematographer, Todd Banhazl, for using POV shots to blend past and present, as it were inreal time. We're almost living the journey of Dorothy, not just watching it.

What fuels the fire in Hustlers is its cast and leading the pack is Constance Wu, whose like a breath of fresh air in every scene she's a part of. She stripteases as easily as she makes you feel for Dorothy and her life outside of being a stripper. Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer are the perfect additions who stand their ground but don't try to steal the spotlight from its obvious main protagonists. Cardi B and Lizzo are the extra cherry on the cake who play themselves but don't overstay their welcome. The flute and trademark rap verses are very welcome with the jazzy soundtrack. Also, a special mention to the costumes, that gets scantier and sexier with each riveting performance. Each character's outfits visually showcase their contrasting personalities, and almost unfold a story of their own. 

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Lopez starrer Hustlers passed with A certificate for India release; to have 4 cuts

But, Hustlers belongs to the one and only Jennifer Lopez. As Fiona Apple's Criminal plays in the background, a scantily clad JLo shows us how it's done. The riveting 10-minute striptease is one of the best introductory scenes in recent time for a character and through Ramona, Jennifer hits it out of the park. She steals every frame she's in and all that Oscar buzz is justifiable. Hell, I would give her an Oscar for the Criminal performance alone. But, it's also how she brings to life the larger than life Ramona, that sticks to you, hours after you leave the theatre. It's the provocative genius in Ramona, that makes her one of the most interesting cinematic con-women! It won't be wrong to say that Hustlers is Jennifer's finest performance to date. And also, 50? Are you kidding me?!

If you've read the New York magazine article, you know what to expect. However, the performances and pace in storyline reel you in. There's the drawback on not focusing enough on building up the characters' storyline, but maybe that was the intention. To show the rat race, from a different perspective. To show the hustle and bustle, which does not stop in reality. It's not a movie for you to feel sorry for a bunch of strippers, it's for you to see the other side of the same coin. The spotlight is shining on the ones who are usually negated for being the sexy quotient of Wall Street-centric movies. 

Given that the India release will be filled with cuts and bleeps, it may prove to be a buzzkill at times. But, we really don't have a choice! 

Is Hustlers everyone's cup of tea? No. Will a majority of the audience be going just to ogle at JLo showing us how it's done at 50? Most definitely yes! But, if you negate the sexiness, it's a critical look at a woman's position in the cruel world, we call reality. But this time, they run the show! This time, the Robin-Hoods are just damn good dancers!

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