Film Review: Hustlers (2019)

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Hustlers’ Facebook Image: Constance Wu as Destiny in Hustlers

A revealing representation of the everyday working world of women, set in a strip club.

For starters, some men might not like this film. However, others might get some awakenings and empathize with the women characters just as they do with the women in their own lives. The women in this film are just basically trying to earn a living. It doesn’t matter that the action takes place in a strip club, or just because it does. It might seem as if it’s easy for women to earn an honest living wage, but it reallly isn’t that easy at all, for some of us.

Jennifer Lopez is my idol. She can do no wrong in my eyes and it seems whatever she touches turns to gold. In this film, with all her beauty included, her character, Ramona deals with the grittiness of life. It’s amazing how tough she is able to act in this role because you would think a woman that looks like that would know nothing of struggle. People do give JLo herself her due accolades though because they realize how much she deserves it for her consistently creating great work and for accomplishing so much.

That said, Constance Wu’s character, Destiny is also important and very relatable. In one scene, she interviews for a retail job which is actually an honest way to work even though the wages can be low. Yet, she doesn’t get hired because she lacks retail experience. I’m sure many women can relate to interviewing for low paying jobs because that’s just how it goes. That’s sometimes just what we can get. And often we can’t even get those jobs. (And of course, men can face that as well.)

Neither a high school diploma nor a college degree guarantees anything higher than a minimum wage job. If the college degree isn’t ivy league, if you don’t have credentials after your name, or if you don’t have anyone to get you in the door, then you have to settle for lower wage status. It’s a fact not just the fiction of this movie. It takes someone to back you or you’re on your own. In Hustlers, it’s Ramona who mentors Destiny and she sure needs it.

The film shows the cash excesses before the 2008 Stock Market crash. The strip club’s customers are highly salaried, majorly corrupted, and easily become targets of exploitation from women who have few options to compete with them. When these men with money walk through the strip club’s door, the women see opportunity and seize it.

The women knew better and that’s clear. The high-powered men on the other hand appear clueless to any vulnerabilities they might have. As I mentioned above, some men will have a problem with their portrayal. However, the condescending power they often exert over women in these roles will leave little room for sympathy.

Another way for a woman to succeed in our society other than to trick a man, is to marry one. True love can happen and end happily. The problem is, what if it doesn’t? A woman fending for herself in a male-powered society isn’t easy. Some men can feel threatened when a woman isn’t with a man, thinking that she must hate men if she isn’t aligned with one. And thus, she is open to abuse, harassment, and other sorrows from men who feel she isn’t falling into line. It’s silly because the common phrase is true, a good man is hard to find and if you’re a smart woman you won’t settle for just any man. Marrying a man just to have a roof over your head is a form of prostitution, but that’s just what I think. To me, it’s love or nothing but there’s also a cost to leaving yourself unprotected. On the other hand, why face possible abuse from a stranger just because the guy offers to take you in?

There should be better options for women. Not every one of us has privilege. There are plenty of poor women that some would like to claim should be doing much better if only they tried harder. Trying is not the problem.

It’s survival of the fittest and the women in Hustlers are born survivors. Ramona is strong where Destiny is a bit weaker but together they make a great pair of friends and co-workers.

What I love about this film is that is shows how women can be friends without it having anything to do with sexuality. Women can just be friends, totally admire each other, look up to one another, help each other and there’s no need for consummation. Not everything in a relationship has to be motivated by sex. (I’m not including sexual preference references, just friendship.)

The ending dialogue from Ramona is the best commentary on today’s world. This film is amazing from beginning to end and that line at the end kept me in my seat as the final credits rolled (which blast an entertaining soundtrack).

There’s Oscar buzz for Jennifer Lopez’s role and I can’t do anything but double endorse that. Constance Wu should also get a mention. And the other women also did well in their supporting roles.

Who will appreciate this film? Any variety of people. It depends on your life experiences, and privilege or lack thereof. But it stands as a fun film to watch no matter whether you can relate or not.

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