BEIRUT: It has been quite some time since audiences got to see the legendary Jennifer Lopez on the big screen, but boy was it worth the wait.
Inspired by true events, HUSTLERS is a comedy-drama that follows a crew of savvy strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
The film brings together a compelling mix of humor, spectacle, social commentary, and a group of disparate women who team up and look for ways to even the odds that are stacked against them.
HUSTLERS explores the lives of these women, these soul sisters, and their fascinating journey, which is in and of itself a cautionary tale about what happens when your ambition is bigger than the reality of your situation.
Though many have critiqued the film’s oversexualization of women, and proclaimed it to have misrepresented the diversity of its cast, it is far from this.
The characters felt very human and organic to the culture of the world they lived in, the world of greedy corporate men and their objectification of the women at these strip clubs all the while flipping the male gaze and deconstructing it, even at times mocking it as all the men in the film are drugged, intoxicated, and downright submissive to these women.
Women are constantly sexualized, but when they find a way to profit from that, all of a sudden it's a problem. In cinema, strippers are painted as throwaways or just background characters. HUSTLERS, on the other hand, digs into the stories of these women's lives and shows the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The film at its core is about the shattering of a friendship between two women with different priorities: one who places family above all else, while the other worships her own ambition and the “game.”
The cast that’s made up some pretty seasoned actors are quite enjoyable to watch due to their natural inhabitation and clear understanding of who these women were, and what their experience was.
The two leads, however, are the stand outs.
Jennifer Lopez delivers a magnanimous performance as Ramona, while Constance Wu’s fragility and vulnerability as the ingenue Destiny brings the film’s heart to life.
HUSTLERS doesn’t offer anything overtly new cinematically, however, its use of mostly hand-held cinematography does lend itself well to a film of this nature because it places the audience intimately closer to the characters on screen.
What’s interesting about HUSTLERS is the way it deconstructs and redefines the American Dream and whether it exists or works.
According to the film’s ideology, the dream exists, but the system is rigged and one has to play the system in order to achieve the ever sought after American Dream.
This is what makes the final words that J. Lo utters in the film’s final moments resonate so poignantly.
The final shot is a close up of J. Lo’s Ramona saying, "This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You've got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance,” and this is quite evident in today’s socio-political climate.
HUSTLERS is playing across all cinemas in Lebanon, catch before it’s too late.
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