Hustlers has been on my radar ever since I heard a Jennifer Lopez crime-stripper film was in the works. All I hoped was that it was well constructed and that it wasn’t like her films of late which have been average at best. Well I’m very happy to report that Hustlers is anything but average, it’s actually very well constructed. The performances are awards level, especially Lopez, who gives what might be her best performance ever. Constance Wu showed me an impressive dramatic side to her talent too. While I enjoyed her in Crazy Rich Asians, she really showed me something special here.
I’ll admit I was a tad hesitant about Jennifer Lopez because while I believe she’s a talented actress and have seen good performances from her, she’s been caught in a so-so rom com trap. This has made me wonder if she could or would do something more dramatic and heavy. My faith has been reignited. Lopez gives a defining, powerhouse/game changing kind of performance. She plays a character that is tough but kind. As the film goes along, we see how her character is very complex and Lopez is able to show the interesting layers to her well. I want to see award nominations for Lopez as she simply deserves it. Constance Wu gives a very affecting performance and she’s great at relaying all the proper feelings. Wu has so many great scenes that provide opportunities for her to showcase her strength with emotional drama and just nails it every time. I felt the full brunt of both these actresses performances; both their performances and the great chemistry they have is why it all feels so genuine.
KeKe Palmer is very good too, she provides some valuable levity and has an infectious energy that fuels a lot of the scenes in a positive way. Reinhart is good overall, while she does leave the least impactful mark, she isn’t bad and certainly doesn’t hurt the film. The chemistry these women have as a group is important because we have to buy them as both friends and partners. They come across as real friends, especially Lopez and Wu. Lopez and Wu’s relationship is central to the plot and I was impressed with how well it’s handled. I wasn’t really expecting this film to show the hearts of the main characters. I really love that the script puts their feelings and emotions on display in several key scenes. It strengthens the story and the characters. The physicality to the dance/strip scenes is really fabulous. Jennifer Lopez has never looked better first of all. She is absolutely stunning in every scene. But that aside, Lopez does several routines that just amazed me, and the best part is she makes it all look so easy. The moves and routines are choreographed very well too, extremely enticing and sexual as it should be.
The private dances look great also and those are actually important to the story. I liked that they didn’t shy away from being realistic. There’s one private dance given by Lopez and Wu that’s filmed so beautifully and puts something interesting on display. I appreciate the filmmakers and cast taking this film seriously and investing in the important things. The writing works so well because not only does it allow us to get to know these characters but it also tells a very well constructed story. The main characters are portrayed as real people and we see their struggles and consequences of bad decisions. I respect Hustlers a lot for making the efforts to give us real people and not just caricature villains. It would be very easy to write cardboard cut out conwomen who have no depth.
Instead of doing what would be simple, the writers put some care and thought into it. And let me be the first to tell you, that care and attention shines through in every scene. The ending is handled well. There’s a montage that involves each character facing consequences towards the end that was really cool. There’s also a very powerful final scene where both Lopez and Wu give extremely stripped down/honest performances and it’s the perfect way to close things out.
Hustlers is simply a well constructed crime film that was made with obvious care and attention to detail. Excellent performance from the leads, depth to the characters, well written script, and it’s all beautifully filmed. I highly suggest you go see this and Lopez and Wu better get awards attention!