Review: "Hustlers" is an exotic, audacious story

Hustlers

"Hustler's" debuted in theaters on Sept. 13, 2019

"Hustlers", an exotic, audacious story, is based on real life events. 

Lorene Scafaria directs the star-studded film, which is a depiction of New York-based strippers who fall into a pattern of illegal activities, including the excessive drugging and thievery of Wall Street CEOs and executives.

Dorothy, a dancer under the pseudonym “Destiny”, narrates the story, as she confesses to a reporter the depth of her and her partner’s schemes. 

On the surface, "Hustlers" appears to be a typical Hollywood film capitalizing on the sexualization of women while disguising it as empowerment, but the movie encapsulates more than just the life of an exotic dancer. 

The storyline tracks young Dorothy, played by Constance Wu, as she begins working at a Manhattan strip club called “Moves”. Within the first few minutes of the show, the audience is shown what Dorothy’s life is like when she leaves the club. Dorothy is struggling to make ends meet, while also trying to take care of her dying grandmother, until she meets Ramona, a saucy superstar at the nightclub. The two embark on a star-crossed companionship that eventually results in their demise. The development of their relationship is an artistic depiction of a downward spiral into a frenzy of partying, shopping and stripping.

The story takes a turn with the stock market crash of 2008. From there, the elements of exhaustion and heartache echoed throughout the film. 

The repeated themes from the lives of the strippers throughout the movie were not a ploy created by male producers to appeal to female audiences. The movie didn’t depict female empowerment and a glamorous lifestyle as a way to sell us sex.

Nothing about the movie is glamorous except the ambient red, purple and pink lighting of the clubs. There were times simply looking the screen was hard because of how disgusting the customers in the night club behaved and treated the women.

This movie also confronts how the word “stripper” is commonly demonized, disrespected and frowned upon. Once the viewer can see the obstacles that Dorothy and her clique had to overcome, they may have been softened to the idea of a pole dancer.

"Hustlers" shows the viewer that stippers are not sexual objects, but humans with their own lives and reasons for doing what they have to do. Regardless of their downfall, these women made a statement that being a stripper is more than meets the eye.

The trailers released for "Hustlers" were misleading in that the film appeared to encompass the glamorous and scandalous lives of successful New York strippers. However, it is much more than just dignifying their sexual behavior and their risqué lifestyle.

Artistically coordinated, this film tells the true story of a young woman befriending a glorified pimp.

"Hustlers" portrays the sobering reality of how greed paired with an imprudent lifestyle can ruin the lives of anyone involved. Though the role of a stripper is not highly regarded, it is not the cause of their failure.

"Hustlers" is a disappointingly accurate reflection of society’s disrespect and ambivalence of women. The over-sexualizing of women is a prevalent issue, and Scafaria was able to shine a light on the worth of these women. Every woman has worth. Every woman has value, and not a single woman is worth just what her physical appearance can offer to a man.

entertainment.ed@ocolly.com