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Movie Review – Strippers Turn Robbers; J-Lo Dazzles in “Hustlers”

How does a mediocre stripper,  Destiny (Constance Wu) recover from a huge career error (getting pregnant) committed amidst  an economic recession when big spending investment bankers are less generous with cash? She joins up with a more proficient former colleague, Ramona (J Lo) and they both become experts at relieving Wall Street bankers of their bank account details and credit cards.

Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez in the trailer for Hustlers (2019)

Hustlers is as hilarious as it is voyeuristic.  It reveals the naughty things overpaid investment bankers do with their money and the desperate schemes of two women who were finding it difficult to make ends meet as strippers (for Wall Street bankers) to help themselves to bankers’ cash. Destiny (Constance Wu)  gets a job in one of New York’s upscale strip clubs in 2007. She’s not very good at twisting her half-naked body before men. She’s constantly subjected to subtle racism and the pay is not as good as she had imagined. The rich owners of the club take away too much of her tip (completely contractual) and there are queer, excessively punters asking her “what did your daddy do to you?

Then she meets Ramona (J-Lo) a sleek pro who becomes her mentor. The new tricks Ramona teachers her starts to pay off as the men starting dropping more money (or attaching it to her g-string). Then two gross professional errors happen. The bankers got too greedy and triggered the 2008 financial crisis. Destiny also became pregnant.

Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu star in HUSTLERS

Destiny left to have her baby. The recession made her lack of skills outside twerking in front of men even more difficult for her to get a job. She had to return to what she knew – stripping. But it had become more difficult to make money in the strip clubs because many of the bankers had been laid off and the ones with jobs had slimmer bonuses. Destiny and Ramona had to learn a new trick that earns them untold sums of money -“fishing” i.e. luring men into the strip club, drugging them and then stealing their account details and bank cards. The cash in a single banker’s account is much more than they could earn as tips from a hundred bankers.  Ramona and Destiny struggle to enjoy their new wealth.  

The story is based on  a factual account of what strippers  did in recession-era New York rendered in a popular article by the writer Jessica Pressler ( The Hustlers at Scores: The Ex-Strippers Who Stole From (Mostly) Rich Men and Gave to, Well, Themselves).

Jennifer Lopez teaching Constance Wu pole-dancing

Hustlers leaves viewers in a moral quandary: should we celebrate women who steal from bankers who we think steal from the rest of us or should we regard the women  as immoral low lifers? Whatever you think of Destiny and Ramona, you are guaranteed to enjoy the film. The story is original and gripping. The acting is great- the scene in which J-Lo is pole dancing and cash is being sprayed on her is a cinematic delight. Hustlers is highly likely to reboot her acting career. The film will be released on September 13. We rate it 8/10. Do everything to watch it when it arrives on the screen in Nigeria.

Check out the trailer for the blockbuster:

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