Direction: Lorene Scafaria
Directed and scripted by Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is an inept, synthetic dramatization of a true-life story that intertwines the worlds of capitalism and erotic entertainment. The director sought inspiration in a 2015 article published in New York Magazine and written by journalist Jessica Pressler, describing the illicit practices of a group of New York lap dancers in order to extort large sums of money from their well-heeled Wall Street clients. Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez (who also produces), and Cardi B, and boasting an unnecessary appearance by R&B/pop singer Usher, this film employs wear out formulas to promote celebrity worship.
Stretching my patience for nearly two hours, Hustlers is the type of film that agitates very little the intellect, relying on endlessly replicated scenes to the point of making me want to scream: “Enough! I got the idea.” Terribly mounted, the narrative is simply discouraging, with practically every scene being coated with that superficial gloss that distracts us from any potential interest the story may have.
The best this film has to offer is some well-choreographed pole dance moves, dexterously apprehended by Lopez in her pre-shooting classes with the professional dancer and choreographer Johanna Sapakie. Sadly, none of the performances stood out, with Wu being the biggest disappointment.
There is no originality, tension, or creativity in Scafaria’s account, which roundly fails to succeed in both the erotic and the drama departments.