There are few movies this year with as much hype as the part crime thriller, part ensemble comedy Hustlers. Its source material, a New York Magazine story about a real-life group of strippers who conned their Wall Street clients, was practically begging to be made into a movie. And now it’s got Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, along with a string of notable supporting actors like Cardi B and Lili Reinhart, on the big screen, and critics are hailing Hustlers to be every bit as sexy, heart-pounding, and profound as its trailer promised.
Right out the gate at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Hustlers premiered this weekend, EW writer Joey Nolfi called Lopez’s jaw-dropping entrance as ring-leader Ramona, “the most exhilarating minute you’ll ever experience. She’s never felt more dangerous + alive than she does in #HustlersMovie. The performance of her career/one of the year’s best films.”
Watching an Oscar-worthy Jennifer Lopez do a striptease to Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ is the most exhilarating minute you’ll ever experience. She’s never felt more dangerous + alive than she does in #HustlersMovie. The performance of her career/one of the year’s best films #TIFF19 pic.twitter.com/EJhYKqbwhC— Joey Nolfi @ TIFF (@joeynolfi) September 8, 2019
Other critics have praised the film’s multitudes and its ability to be at once a fast-paced thriller, a celebration of female friendship, a commentary on corporate greed, and a meditation on morality, while also respecting sex workers and giving them nuance and agency. It’s a hard feat to pull off, and writer-director Lorene Scafaria does it with style.
Hustlers will debut in theaters on Friday, Sept 13. Read the reviews below.
“Lopez (who seems to hold the center of every scene she’s in) and Wu bring a soulfulness and desperation to their roles that defy easy profiling. Yes, they’re single moms from disadvantaged backgrounds, but the script doesn’t martyr them or offer excuses for the choices they make. What it does, smartly if sometimes a little too neatly, is make them feel real.”
“Hustlers delivers on its hype while consistently doing the unexpected. Scafaria … excels at immersing the audience in the world of sex work in clubs, quietly disabusing us scene by scene of any stereotypes about who these women are. Part workplace dramedy, part revenge fantasy, the film weaves together a series of satisfying, organic-feeling turns.”
“For all its touchy subjects and ambiguous answers, ‘Hustlers’ is never anything less than energetic, freight-train-fast, and impeccably plotted … It’s Scafaria and her ladies, one hand on the wheel, one hand throwing up a blinged-out middle finger to the world that doesn’t value them. No one will make that same mistake with ‘Hustlers.'”
“Hustlers” humanizes the women at its center, giving them boyfriends, backstories and, most importantly, agency. The dancers are smart enough to embody any number of male fantasies, but they do so on their terms, and Scafaria never loses sight of the fact that they’re the ones in control at all times.”
“Blessed with one of the most memorable entrances in recent cinema history (pole-dancing to Fiona Apple’s Criminal and met with a swarm of money), Lopez slinks through Hustlers with a deceptive ease, as in control of the film as her character is of her situation. It’s the sort of role that only a true movie star could pull off, so much of it reliant on a rare, intoxicating magnetism.”
“What comes through in this movie is a ferocious rage at the status quo, a desire to even the playing field for a slice of the population that’s repeatedly discounted and discarded, that feels very in tune with our current times, despite the action taking place nearly a decade ago. Women are angry, and this movie not only understands that and gives us an outlet to channel it, but also offers a joyful, celebratory respite from it.”
“It’s sexy on its own terms, guided by an intricate ethic. Yes, it is the cool stripper-robber movie with the awesome cast. But it’s also a true movie for our era, teeming with the confusion and yearning and risk of life right now. It’s a deeply humane film, one that finds celebration, and illumination, in the dark spaces where so many grind.”
“Hustlers is crowdpleaser to its core. It never gets too nasty, though in the few instances it does, it shows a glimmer of the sharp, acidic movie that the real-life story portends. But as a campy female-empowerment comedy anchored by a scene-stealing Lopez, it’s still a good time.”
“Most of the cast, particularly the inimitable Jennifer Lopez, delivers a performance as unapologetically glamorous as it is achingly human. Lopez is the gravitational pull of this movie, with everything else (including an astounding parade of A-list cameos) orbiting around the blinding heat of her glory. If you think equating Lopez to the sun is an exaggeration, then you haven’t seen this movie.”