‘Hustlers’ unique and empowering take on crime genre

Maddie Loverich, Writer

Yes, this movie is about strippers. But would you believe me if I also said Hustlers was one of the most empowering movies I’ve seen in a long time? Stripping and empowerment seem to be an unlikely duo, but this movie challenges that assumption and then some. 

It’s 2007. We meet struggling Destiny (Constance Wu), beginning her night of working at a strip club in New York City. Her colleagues are a star-studded group, including actresses Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Cardi B, Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer. Despite her company, the job is less than glamorous. Club management has taken a big chunk of her earnings that she plans to use to help her aging grandmother, and things are looking grim for the inexperienced young woman. Hope comes in the form of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who teams up with her to get men at the club to fork out more money. Their success was short lived, and the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis began to affect the clientele at the club. 

Ramona hatches a plan to bring back some money, and who better to focus on than the sleazy businessmen causing the financial problems in the first place? By drugging them, Ramona and Destiny get the despicable men to come to the club and run up their credit card bills. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to work with animals,” said Ramona. “I was close.” 

At the root of this scheme comes a desire for stability in the women’s lives. “It’s not a coincidence that both main characters have daughters they’re fierce about raising,” said Linfield professor Jamie Friedman. “This is a movie about the familial connections, including among the women themselves, that motivate their actions and propel them forward.” 

Hustlers is exciting and emotional. These women take control of their situation and figure out how to make the best of it for themselves and their families. It’s inspiring to see them take matters into their own hands, but it’s also nerve-wracking that they have to do it in this way. “The game is rigged,” said Ramona. “And it does not reward people who play by the rules.” 

Creative structuring of the timeline in which the story is told creates a unique sequence of events. By telling the story through flashbacks, the audience is immediately aware of the outcome, which keeps them anticipating what’s next the whole time. 

Action-packed, relevant and funny, ‘Hustlers’ is a must-see movie this fall.