TIFF Review: ‘Hustlers’ is Partly Fun, Mostly Repetitive

There have been several stripper movies made in the past. Unfortunately, hardly any of them are good. With the kind of talent involved in ‘Hustlers’, I was very hopeful that that is going to change. After all, when you have Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Julia Stiles and Constance Wui working with one of the rising directing talents, what’s there not to look forward to. Well, as it turned out, sometimes good talent is not enough. You also need good storytelling!

‘Hustlers’ is based on a true story of a group of strippers in New York City, who in the late 2000s, embezzled dozens of wealthy men. The film mainly centers around Destiny, a single mother who takes up stripping to support her family, and Ramona Vega, a veteran stripper, who mentors Destiny and concoct a scheme to scam and rob wealthy men by drugging them. As you would have expect, things go awry and law enforcement gets involved.

There are many reasons to like ‘Hustlers’. First of all, it is not a story that you don’t get to see often in films. Secondly, Jennifer Lopez hasn’t been this good in a very long time. The film only reaffirms why she is such a great dancing and acting talent. Thirdly, there are a couple of really funny scenes that will leave you in splits of laughter. But the problem with ‘Hustlers’ is that all of that doesn’t add up to make a good film.

The biggest problem ‘Hustlers’ suffers from is repetitiveness. The third act of the film, except the ending, is like a replay of everything in the first two acts. The dance performances are fun initially, but by the midpoint, they feel more like a burden. Another issue with the film is its predictability. You know from miles afar where this film is going. You hope that there will be surprises on the way, but nope, it plays exactly on the expected lines right till the end. A film like ‘Hustlers’ needs a strong emotional undercurrent and a character you can root for. It does okay in the first department — there’s some emotional arc to the story. But what it seriously lacks is a character that you can care for. I am sure many will have sympathy for Destiny. I didn’t. She could have picked a different, more honest path. But, she sided with the ones she was robbing: the path of greed.

Rating: 1.5/5