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TIFF19: Hustlers

It’s hard out there for a ho.  You’ve got to be a certain kind of broke, maybe a certain kind of desperate, to take to the pole.  When Dorothy (Constance Wu) a.k.a. “Destiny” does it, she’s saving her Nana from debt.  She makes money but not loads – the club takes a big cut, and maybe she’s just not that good.  So call it Dorothy’s lucky day when stripper extraordinaire Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) takes Destiny under her wing.

Ramona makes it rain.  Er, well, money rains down hard on her.  The stage is coated so thickly in cash it looks like it’s been blanketed in snow.  After rolling around in it, Ramona clutches the bills to her like it’s fur.  Ramona IS money.  But then the recession hits, and with Wall Street hit hard, the strip club’s big spenders disappear.

hustlers_0HERO-ForWebsiteONLYThat’s when Destiny and Ramona make a little luck of their own.  Both single mothers, they are struck with the entrepreneurial spirit.  Sex, money, drugs – they’re a match made in heaven.  Or in a gentlemen’s club.  Where the men are ANYTHING but gentlemen.

You can try to extrapolate themes of…friendship, greed, revenge?  Sure.  Let’s call it a rebellion where the poor and disenfranchised rise up against the rich, entitled assholes.  But the truth is, the film is rather light on theme but heavy on girl-on-girl action.  Lots of skimpy costumes that mostly just consist of strings with which to cling dollar bills to glitter-streaked bodies.  There’s lots of booty shaking and titty popping and hip gyrating and pole humping.  Which, let’s face it, is what the people want.  On that score, you couldn’t possibly be disappointed.

Is it hard to root for the protagonists?  Absolutely.  Is it even harder to feel sorry for their victims?  Darn tootin’.  Is it morally murky?  Of course.  It’s a movie about strippers who want more and get it.

Should we bother objectifying the women?  Let’s not.  Jennifer Lopez: you’ve seen her.  She’s amazing.  And she’s 50.  That woman works the pole like her thighs are made of margarine.  So while this isn’t the most fervent review of Hustlers, it’s a 1000% endorsement of J-Lo’s fitness regimen.

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