Summary: A group of strippers survive during the Recession.
Disclaimer, I dubbed this movie Trashy Widows and I’m not taking it back. I was not expecting to like this movie as much as I did. I went in expecting the “We’re hot and we’re not sorry” kind of girl power, and got something a little bit different. It’s not so much a movie about strippers as it is a movie about someone trying to financially support their loved ones and the glamour goes from ludicrous to dirty real fast.
There’s a lot of chemistry between the leads and you can tell they sought to tell the story of human beings doing what it takes to maintain a proper life. The characters feel like real people with real struggles. Maybe they’re playing shades of themselves (and J. Lo has a fantastic editor and hairstylist), but there’s a great sense of authenticity that each of the women bring.
I know there are a lot of reviews calling this movie sexist and a waste of time, but I think that’s coming from a defensive group of people that identify with the men in this movie (cough), so whatever. Ignore those, there are obviously things that they can’t let go of and can’t keep an objective lens. I think there are a lot of good things in this movie as a movie. I think if you really want to appreciate this movie and its context, you might have to read up some more on sex work and its manipulations of gaze.
That being said, I find sex work to be an interesting topic because it is so multifaceted. On one hand, it makes sense to me why it would be empowering for people and on the other, I find it so dominated by the male gaze and toxic masculinity that I can’t understand how one wouldn’t feel like a commodity. There a careful balance in Hustlers where the women could be in control and attractive while also acknowledging the kinds of attitudes and bias one would encounter as a stripper. Rather than target the men, Hustlers focuses on how the women handle their customers and divert the attention, which is smart character development and exposition. The men might win out in the end, both in real life and with the visuals, but the women walk away with some multi-dimensional characters and a movie to be proud of.