Lorene Scafaria tells the story of the strippers who scammed to survive, led by J. Lo and Constance Wu.
J. Lo, Cardi B and Lizzo. Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu and Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart in decidedly different roles to the cutesy, innocent ones they’re known for. The story of the financial crash told through the lens of strippers, based on a real-life viral article. We knew we would love Hustlers from the moment the trailer dropped and we practically hyperventilated over the cast and the use of Cardi B’s aptly named banger “Money”. But the film gave us more than we could’ve ever asked for, from endlessly quotable lines to visually stunning cinematography and everything in between.
Read our breakdown of Hustlers below…
WHAT: Based on the 2015 New York Magazine article, “The Hustlers at Scores”, Hustlers follows Wu’s Destiny (real name Dorothy) as she struggles to make ends meet as a stripper, before she meets and befriends J. Lo’s Ramona, and the two begin to scam wealthy Wall Street men out of their thousands with the help of their “sisters”, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart. Cue multiple quick-cut scenes of scamming, shopping and stripping, plus the nostalgic noughties wardrobe of our dreams, complete with Juicy Couture tracksuits.
WHERE: We’ve seen the story of 2008’s disastrous financial crash before – most notably in The Big Short, directed by Hustlers producer Adam McKay – but most of us had no idea how the recession hit the strip clubs and their dancers, whose livelihoods relied on the deep pockets of Wall Street suits. Lorene Scafaria guides us through strip clubs (in which real dancers were extras), Wall Street trading floors and Ramona’s lavish pad, interspersed with scenes of Destiny retelling her experiences to the journalist interviewing her.
STAR OF THE SHOW: Between Lizzo playing her flute in a strip club dressing room, J. Lo dancing to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”, and ‘90s film queen Julia Stiles as the journalist who first broke the story, choosing just one woman from the truly perfect cast isn’t easy. But Constance Wu is the highlight of every scene she’s in, from the opening, Goodfellas-style tracking shot as she makes her way around the strip club, to walking her daughter Lily into her first day of school wearing a blood-stained crop top after a scam gone wrong, privy to the judging eyes of fellow mums.
WHO TO WATCH IT WITH: Your BFF, so you can fully relate to the friendship between Ramona and Destiny, who become (literal) partners in crime from the moment Ramona first wraps Destiny up in her huge fur coat on the rooftop of the club.
STAND-OUT SCENE: From the early noughties soundtrack to the Scorsese-inspired cinematography, every scene confirms the Oscar worthiness of the film (Best Actress for J. Lo is already being rightly campaigned for on Twitter) and makes you want to rewatch it again and again. But the stand-out has to be the scene in which law enforcement finally catches up with each of the girls, set to the best use of Lorde’s “Royals” we’ve ever seen, notes flying out of Ramona’s hands as she submits to her inevitable fate.
WATCH IF: You want to learn more about how strippers were affected by the financial crash, you want to see J. Lo effortlessly spinning around a pole, you want to see iconic cameos from Cardi to G-Eazy to Usher (yes, you read that last one right)… we could go on. In fact, watch it multiple times: once to appreciate the use of sound, once to marvel at the goddess that is Jennifer Lopez, once to fully appreciate Constance Wu’s career-defining performance…
DON’T WATCH IF: You don’t want to see… actually, we can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to see this film.
WONDERLAND REVIEW: 4/5