This image released by STXfilms shows, from left, Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu in a scene from "Hustlers." Photo: Barbara Nitke/STXfilms via AP
entertainment

In 'Hustlers,' Jennifer Lopez steals money, and the show

24 Comments
By JAKE COYLE

"Hustlers" is, in itself, a hustle.

It looks like a flashy, glamorous movie about strippers — all sparkle and skin and high-heels. And it is that. But the fleshy, dazzling surface of "Hustlers," written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, cloaks an empowering feminist tale about a sisterhood of women who turn the tables on a male-controlled industry.

"People go into the movie expecting something because stripper is a word that has so many connotations and preconceived notions," says Scafaria. "That's the hustle. Hopefully we're subverting expectations but subverting them in a way that has some nuance to it."

"Hustlers," opening in U.S. theaters this week following its well-received premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, stars Jennifer Lopez as Ramona, a veteran stripper in New York who takes a young dancer (Constance Wu) under her wing. Ramona organizes a scam to drug Wall Street guys and max out their credit cards. It's loosely based on a true story, chronicled in a 2015 New York magazine article, and set in the years after the 2008 financial crisis — when far greater, white-collar swindles went largely unprosecuted.

The transactional world of strip clubs — so commonly depicted from a male viewpoint in movies — has seldom been viewed through a female gaze like it is in "Hustlers." It's a microcosm, Lopez says, of America.

"It's all a strip club," says Lopez. "You have people tossing the money and people doing the dance.

"This film says something about the inequality that we've been yelling and screaming about for a while now and kind of making some headway," she adds. "And I hate saying that so broadly because I love men and there are so many great, supportive beautiful men in the world. But there is this thing that exists that we can't deny."

"Hustlers" might be Lopez's most radiant and regal screen performance, too, since Steven Soderbergh's 1998 film "Out of Sight." As Ramona, she's the matriarchal ringleader of an improvised family of strippers-turned-hustlers. (Cardi B makes her big-screen debut, alongside a cast including Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer.)

Lopez is, like Ramona, an entrepreneur from the Bronx. She instantly identified with the role, even if the stripping scenes gave her pause.

"It was scary. I saw the script and it wasn't like boobs everywhere. That wasn't (Scafaria's) thing," says Lopez. "But I also knew I was playing a stripper and I'm a mom and what does that all mean? But I felt good about how Lorene wanted to tell the story and that it was something I could be proud of it."

Scafaria, the 41-year-old writer of "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist," observed how much training Lopez put into the part. As experienced a dancer as she is, pole-dancing was something else entirely. Lopez' resplendent entrance in the movie is a stage dance set to Fiona Apple's "Criminal" while being showered with bills.

"It was like acrobatics. I had to start lifting more weights. I had to change my body," says Lopez. "I told her, 'I have to change my body if I do this.'"

"And I was like, 'Please don't. I don't know what we're talking about,'" retorts Scafaria, laughing.

In just the past two years, Lopez has released new Spanish-language tracks, launched a cosmetic line, got engaged to former baseball player Alex Rodriguez and recently concluded a 38-concert tour. Time Magazine has ranked her among the 100 most influential people in the world. "Second Act," released in 2018, proved movie audiences still love her. It grossed $72.2 million worldwide. She's also a producer on "Hustlers."

"People think 'Oh, she's not a serious recording artist.' Or, 'she's not really a serious actress,' or 'She's not really a serious entrepreneur.' No, I'm very serious about all of them. That's why I've spent most of my life doing as many of those things as possible," says Lopez. "Because I do all those things, I don't get the credit at times — which is fine, I don't care. I love what I do. I have the most amazing life. I feel good about my life. I feel good about where I am.

"But I've had to kind of give myself that pat on my back: 'You're doing good,'" she says. "Once I started doing that, my whole life changed."

"Hustlers," however, already has a lot of people heaping praise on Lopez. Scafaria says the part of Ramona "fits her like a glove — even if it's not a glove she's tried on in the same way."

The performance has catapulted Lopez into the awards conversation this fall. "Hustlers" may be about a broken value system, but it's brought renewed appreciation for Lopez as an actor. Lopez, who turned 50 in July, says an Oscar would be "a tremendous moment in my life.

"You dedicate your whole life to doing what you love, and you do it because you love it. But it's also nice when somebody says, 'Hey, we think you do it great,'" says Lopez. "I don't even want to think about it. I usually get tears in my eyes."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


24 Comments
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I'm sure it was just as well done as "Boogie Nights."

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sounds utterly cringeworthy.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

One from every ethnicity. Apart from the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific races. But they nearly ticked them all.

Entirely by chance of course

7 ( +10 / -3 )

……….empowering.....time will tell I guess, but could this flick be so WITHOUT having to resort to......strippers....again time will tell

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As a married man with kids, is it OK for me to say that I only want to watch this movie because Jennifer Lopez plays a stripper?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

cringeworthy.

Must miss!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I will not watch this trashy movie, another film that show Asian female as sexual object.. not like there was so many of them already...

And shame on Constance Wu who has no self respect.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

One from every ethnicity. Apart from the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific races. But they nearly ticked them all.

Entirely by chance of course

I must have my filters on. I just saw 4 (admittedly) glamorous people. Can't comment on the movie, ain't seen it yet.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I must have my filters on. I just saw 4 (admittedly) glamorous people. Can't comment on the movie, ain't seen it yet.

Undoubtedly they are all gorgeous. But I do see some slightly cynical selection to make sure they cover a lot of bases. Or perhaps it is me being cynical.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Or perhaps it is me being cynical.

Perhaps I'm just trying to be positive about a negative and cynical world ;-)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think strippers and sex workers generally are ahead of the curve when it comes to diversity.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

'cloaks an empowering fem...'

I must admit, I stopped reading right there.

Bree Larson said it best...'Not everything is made for you.'

She's right, and that's fine.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"empowering"

Yeah, whatever. Next article.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Can't wait for the "director's cut" version to see how J-Lo is really holding up!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good to see some Asian representation. I'll give it a try when it comes out in my area.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Glad to see that in the wake of all that #MeToo excess Hollywood is back to objectifying women again. They weren’t serious of course. Strippers! Woohoo!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Wolfpack

If making that kind of money would be an option for men I would have no problem with being objectified.

No college degree necessary, no education necessary, with few hours of work, they can make more money than a doctor, more than a lawyer, more than a silicon valley nerd doing software.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Glad to see that in the wake of all that #MeToo excess Hollywood is back to objectifying women again. They weren’t serious of course. Strippers! Woohoo!

Which of these women were the #metoo movement?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Glad to see that in the wake of all that #MeToo excess Hollywood is back to objectifying women again.

Are these actors being objectified? Have you seen the movie?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

AlexBecuToday 04:25 am JSTWolfpack

If making that kind of money would be an option for men I would have no problem with being objectified.

There are male strippers for the female and gay men crowds. And ever heard of the Chippendales?

I can't call these 'sex workers' true workers. Anybody can dance around, take off their clothes and turn people on. The money will come in anyway, the patrons will be slushed. It's just a stupid idiotic way to make a living.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@RyanTanSG I will not watch this trashy movie, another film that show Asian female as sexual object.

The film is not many first suspect. In the story the women are the ones that are outsmarting everyone else. Sound intriguing

https://www.tiff.net/events/hustlers

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder Jay Lo is wearing the Kardashian kimono?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’ll see it JUST because JLO is in it, that’s good enough for me.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

bass4funkSep. 14 07:09 pm JSTI’ll see it JUST because JLO is in it, that’s good enough for me.

Her movies are trash. But I guess you could watch them on Netflix or YouTube and freeze and look at the image on the screen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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