A decent crime drama elevated by great performances and an interesting stylistic approach - 6/10

by Movies-Graded

Performances: 4/5
Screenplay: 3/5
Costumes/Makeup: 5/5
Editing: 3/5
Cinematography: 4/5
Score/Soundtrack: 4/5

Verdict: Lorene Scafaria's latest effort in the director's chair was quite the surprise. I wouldn't call "Hustlers" a masterpiece or anything close to it, but for a film that was on nobody's radar earlier this year, it delivered in a pretty effective way.
The story, which is based on true events, follows a group of strip club dancers who team up together to con their clients at the start of the decade. Told through an interview with Constance Wu's character, my biggest takeaways from  it were Wu's versatile performance and Scafaria's overarching style enhanced by a neon aesthetic and upbeat soundtrack (a style very reminiscent of one Harmony Korine). Jennifer Lopez also delivers what probably is a career best performance as Ramona, the leader of the pack. What refrain the movie from standing out among other crime dramas was unfortunately its repetitive and honestly somewhat uneven script. Aside from succumbing to a few clichés, large chunks of it felt either rushed or lagging. The relationship between the characters and narrative transitions are established almost instantly and fail to develop for quite some time afterwards. The film is almost 2 hours long but half of it feels wasted on scenes that were either previously shown or just plainly don't add anything to it.
Nevertheless, "Hustlers" does feel like a breath of fresh air that absolutely delivers on its premise. I don't think it'll remembered as one of the genre's bests but I found enough of it enjoyable enough to justify a watch.

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