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TIFF 2019 Film Review: “Hustlers” (2019) ★★★★★


I normally avoid watching films like “Hustlers” during the festival, especially if they open next week in the same city that hosts the festival. However, as you may agree with me, sometimes it’s good to break the tradition if that change promises to bring a satisfactory result. Inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler that went viral, Lorene Scafaria makes a bold move by taking over the film, the result of which could not be any more dazzling than it is.

The film follows a group of former strippers, Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Destiny (Constance Wu), Mercedes, and Annabelle, who, after the 2008 financial crisis go after Wall Street clients. As they come up with a lucrative plan, they drag their clients and cash their money, doing this to the point till the fun game turns into a dangerous quest that will eventually have the authorities going after them. However, before things turn from bad to worse, there will be fun only when the women will stop at nothing to earn as much money as possible to build for themselves a better future.

As it all may sound too poetic, in reality, it’s not how it looks like. The film starts with Destiny in 2007, when she is almost a failed stripper making less money than her fellow ‘sisters’. But when Ramona comes to the stage, the entire Sin City Cabaret forgets about the existence of an outside world and begins throwing all the money they have on her. Being amazed and mesmerized at the same time, Destiny joins Ramona as her protégé soon to turn into a good friend and an ally to fool every man they can.

The concept of “Hustlers” is quite fascinating. Just to think that the entire story happened in real life and in a manner being described in the article is mind-blowing. Indeed, it’s women who are being victimized all the time. Just by looking at the hungry faces of men seeing Destiny, Ramona, or the other women is enough to not feel bad for them. However, while the first part of it is just men on a hunt against women, the second part of it is purely based on what women do to men by getting all the money their wealthy clients have.

The entire film is an unbelievable journey. With almost two hours of running time, the dynamic atmosphere, great dialogues, powerful performances delivered by Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez, the film is a big success. From start to end, it never slows down its pace by continuing to build up the tension towards the end. And by the time it’s over, you will find yourself speechless by the beauty, strength, and excellence of the film – because it really is all of it and more.

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