December 4, 2021

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REVIEW: HUSTLERS

Do you still remember the story of the male strippers who were inspired by Channing Tatum’s life story? Magic Mike was released in 2012 which was quite successful in rating and financially plus the film was played by male actors who were quite famous and cool at that time besides Channing Tatum (Matt Bomer, Matthew McConaughey, even Joe Manganiello also played in the film). Still inspired by true stories, this time the story of the female strippers in New York City and their adventures in making money from the busiest city in the US. The story was written in an article titled “The Hustlers at Scores” in Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine in 2015. The article was made into a film titled Hustlers which was screened in US theaters on September 13, 2019 and aired in Indonesia on October 18, 2019 after going through a fairly tough censorship process. This crime drama genre film is directed by Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norahs Infinite Playlist – 2008) while Jennifer Lopez and Will Ferrell are members of the film’s producing team with their production house Nuyorican Productions. The film stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B. Norahs Infinite Playlist – 2008) while Jennifer Lopez and Will Ferrell are members of the film’s producing team with their production house Nuyorican Productions. The film stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B. Norahs Infinite Playlist – 2008) while Jennifer Lopez and Will Ferrell are members of the film’s producing team with their production house Nuyorican Productions. The film stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B.

The story begins with a time setting in 2014 highlighting Dorothy/Destiny (Constance Wu) who is being interviewed by Elizabeth (Julia Stiles) regarding her friend and mentor Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Elizabeth is writing a story about a fraud scandal involving Destiny, Ramona and their friends. Seven years earlier Destiny had worked at the Stripper Moves Club to support herself and her mother but her performances were not that great. Until one day he saw Ramona’s appearance and tried to befriend her. His efforts were successful, when he met Ramona on the roof and they told stories, Ramona felt good and in the end the two of them became a solid team and raised quite a bit of money. A year later the worst financial crisis in 2008 hit the US and they were both hit by financial difficulties.

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Upon returning to Moves, Destiny is surprised that the atmosphere has changed there, strippers who are mostly Russian immigrants willing to have sex for money, something that crosses the line for Destiny. It didn’t take long for Destiny to contact Ramona again and they worked together to launch a new plan to earn a lot of money. Together with Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer) who are their stripper colleagues, they target wealthy clients and make their money. Their modus operandi is to get rich male clients high on their drug concoction (ketamine + MDMA), which they mix into their drinks, then drive them to Moves to charge their credit cards up to the limit. Gradually Ramona stopped bringing her clients to Moves, Ramona moved to take his clients to hotels so that the proceeds they received did not have to be shared with the club. This tactic worked until one time an incident with a client caused them to be investigated by the NY police. This incident breaks Destiny and Ramona’s relationship and causes them to be detained along with Annabelle and Mercedes. What happens next to Destiny and Ramona’s friendship? Can their relationship recover? What happens next to Destiny and Ramona’s friendship? Can their relationship recover? What happens next to Destiny and Ramona’s friendship? Can their relationship recover?

In this film that is full of sexual elements, Scafaria manages to present a story that makes the audience focus on the drama story of the strippers in the night entertainment industry rather than highlighting their sexual aspects. Scafaria concocts the right story that is able to make the main characters who incidentally are strippers not just objects but human characters who have a background why they do that. Through the eyes of Ramona and Destiny, we are shown that the work in their world is like any other job which also has politics and a system that sometimes does not favor the workers. The story that is built is quite solid and is able to make us connect with the characters in this film, viewers will be able to sympathize with Ramona and Destiny regarding their background in doing all these activities. We are shown that behind all that they are actually women who care about their children and families. Scafaria makes us immersed in the story of friendship and the ups and downs of Destiny, Ramona, Annabelle, and Mercedes in their schemes and intrigues to work on Wall Street workers while making us think that their actions even in a gray area may be acceptable for Wall Street workers. As Ramona points out, Wall Street workers are like thieves who use their cunning and deceit in defrauding clients to earn huge commissions.

In terms of cast, Jennifer Lopez is the main star in this film thanks to her skill in transforming into a Latin woman leader of a stripper group, she looks very stunning as a strong and dominant woman, who controls the system and knows how to execute big plans to get money. From a physical point of view, Lopez’s appearance looks excellent and impressive considering that she is already 50 years old. Lopez is also able to show herself as a mother who cares for her child and has empathy for her coworkers. This time Constance Wu appears more multi-dimensional than her role in Crazy Rich Asians, she who was originally innocent was able to turn into a fraud but still has morality after being taught by Ramona, she is also able to display the figure of lower-class workers who struggle to support their daughter and mother. This is all displayed quite fit and as it is. Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer also performed satisfactorily as supporting actresses for this film and created an interesting dynamic between them.

Hustlers showcases the human side and human aspect behind the nightlife industry, specifically the Stripper Club, which so far has only been viewed negatively. Scafaria invites us to dive deeper into the lives of workers who are like women who want to survive with all the problems of their lives. The morality aspect of the audience is also disturbed through a series of fraudulent acts committed by the female characters in this film because their goal is not only for profit, even though it is criminal. Something that is built with bad fundamentals such as fraud cannot last forever, that’s the message that this film wants to convey. Of course the cultural conditions and legal aspects in the US are different from those in Indonesia. there stripper club is legal while in Indonesia it is more closed/illegal and full of prostitution. In this film, it is explained that Destiny, Ramona and their friends never cross the line to prostitution. Watching this film does require its own maturity to capture the real message that it wants to convey. This film is not a biopic but only inspired by a true story with some elements that have been added for the sake of the film’s story, as critical film connoisseurs of course we need to dig further into the actual facts in order to get a comprehensive picture. Watching this film does require its own maturity to capture the real message that it wants to convey. This film is not a biopic but only inspired by a true story with some elements that have been added for the sake of the film’s story, as critical film connoisseurs of course we need to dig further into the actual facts in order to get a comprehensive picture. Watching this film does require its own maturity to capture the real message that it wants to convey. This film is not a biopic but only inspired by a true story with some elements that have been added for the sake of the film’s story, as critical film connoisseurs of course we need to dig further into the actual facts in order to get a comprehensive picture.