"Reel Reviews: ‘Hustlers’ an unexpected role for Jennifer Lopez" by: Jessica Shepard

   “Hustlers” is a crime drama film written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, based on New York magazine’s 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler.
   The film stars Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, and Cardi B.
   It’s rated R for pervasive sexual material, drug content, language, and nudity and is ranked number two in theaters worldwide, raking in just over $37.6 million last weekend.
   Former New York City-based stripper Dorothy (Wu) is invited for an interview with Elizabeth (Stiles), a journalist working on a story involving Dorothy’s former friend and mentor, Ramona Vega (Lopez).
   In 2007, Dorothy, known by her stripper name as Destiny, is working at a strip club to support her grandmother, but is continually frustrated by her inability to attract paying clients.
   After watching Ramona’s very popular performance, Dorothy goes to meet with her and they hit it off, with Ramona taking Destiny under her wing and teaching her how to recognize the three different types of customers.
   The first type is insecure men who don’t spend much but can be strung along for weeks or even months, the second type is regulars that visit the club frequently, and the third type includes the CEOs, bankers, and hedge funders ready to spend thousands for a good night.
   Together, the two form a formidable team targeting their third type of clients, with Dorothy using her newly acquired wealth to purchase her own apartment and feed her shopping addiction.
   A year later, the financial crisis strikes and both Dorothy and Ramona find themselves without enough clients to support their lifestyles.
   Dorothy’s boyfriend abandons her and their infant daughter, and she is unable to find a new job due to her lack of experience.
   With no other options, Dorothy goes back to stripping only to find that her old club is now populated by customers who demand sex, a line she is unwilling to cross.
   Ramona then introduces her to a scheme involving her two protégées, Mercedes (Palmer) and Annabelle (Reinhart): targeting rich men at bars, getting them drunk, and then escorting them to the club where the girls steal their credit card numbers and charge them to their limit.
   Dorothy joins in, and learns that Ramona has also been experimenting with a potentially lethal concoction of ketamine and MDMA designed to induce memory loss while also impairing their judgment and sense of restraint.
   Dorothy argues that while drugging the men may be unpleasant, none of their victims will be able to endure the shame and humiliation of having to admit to being robbed by strippers, and so they won’t ever have to worry about the police getting involved.
   The scheme is a success at first, but when some of the targets prove to be too aggressive and demanding for Mercedes and Annabelle to handle, Dorothy suggests bringing in other girls, who are carefully trained to avoid drinking or using drugs.
   It’s the seemingly perfect hustle and Ramona’s motivational speeches are definitely one for the books.
   But, all good things must come to an end and this plays out expectedly with death, drugs and betrayal.
   It’s entertaining, at the very least and gives Lopez a darker role than I’m used to seeing her in.

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