Hustlers

The Plot:

Destiny (Constance Wu) is a mild-mannered woman struggling to make ends meet as a New York City stripper.

Befriending the indelible Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), these two smart capable women tire of working hard yet barely making ends meet.

Together they begin to exploit their wealthy Wall Street clients – fleecing them like they fleeced America during the recent recession.

Yet, all good things must come to an end, as authorities catch up to these “girls gone wild.”

Kent 's Take:

“Hustlers” is a crime drama based upon a true story and is inspired by a New York Magazine article. Unfortunately, this cinematic story falls short in several areas.

This uninspired film portrays every woman as downtrodden, manipulated or victimized. Every man in this story is either a jerk, dishonest, manipulative or wealthy. This idea that all women are good and all men are bad immediately weakens this story – the most interesting parts of good films are those moments when gray areas appear to create a complex character and reflect life in all of its difficulties and ultimate successes. The absolute nature of the characterizations of the men and women dilute the emotional strength of the narrative.

I imagine most of the seedy, amoral behavior displayed in the film is true. I feel for those trapped in this kind of situation (although it is not displayed very well in the film), but I didn’t feel much for the woman in the film.

The “straight shooting” plot meanders toward its predictable finish. No one in “Hustlers” is innocent. Although the Wall Street traders were at the strip clubs ogling women, paying for private dances, exploiting these woman, it was a legal endeavor.

Destiny and Ramona didn’t turn the tables on their Wall Street clients, they flat out drugged and robbed them, preying upon the social stigma of visiting a strip club. It’s difficult to root for criminals regardless of how cute and sexy they are. Add to this poor characterization, these women aren’t real (and I’m not referring to their cleavage).

The acting performances are good enough, with Lopez doing a good job of carrying a mediocre film, but they are not given enough meat on the bone to give worthy performances. These women eventually became pimps, flippantly using drugs on men with reckless abandon.

As things start to unravel for Destiny and Ramona in the final act of the film, audiences have already experienced their unraveling in a repetitive second act that slows to limp down a well-worn path.

“Hustlers” fails to titillate, ruminate, ingratiate or propagate its audience. Viewers will feel hustled themselves after paying to see a film bursting with . . . possibilities, but finishing with little more than a tease.