Next, we have Jennifer Lopez as veteran dancer stripper Ramona. By now, it is no secret that Lopez is the “star” of Hustlers, and she makes quite an entrance – surely one of the greatest of the year or maybe ever! – acting mainly with her body. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that for a performer. Especially as Jennifer, practiced with professional pole dancer Johanna Sapakie for months in order to look like the real deal. (Sapakie also choreographed dance routines for the film and trained the other actors.) Sure, there might not be so much of a physical transformation, as in Bale dramatically putting pounds on-and-off for award-winning roles, and she is, above all else, world-renowned singer and dancer used to perform barring very little, but, so not many have this acquired facility and confidence for putting on a show like this! (well except for all the other, famous or not, performers and dancers everywhere from Broadway to cabarets to, yes clubs. Because if there is one thing Hustlers make sure of, it is to remind us that: a performance is a performance no matter where it happens, with choreography, costume, and “attitude”!) There might not be a consensus (if there is such a thing) on her portrayal of Ramona, but despite being heavy-ended, Lopez was on point. There is already some award buzz around the film, and, chiefly, many people are quick to throw her name for best supporting role.
“The film direction is undoubtedly fresh with things often happening fast. The earlier scenes are particularly brilliantly staged.”
Jennifer might be only one of the few Latina with an opportunity to be recognized with major acting awards by her peers this year. In 90 years, only a dismal number of American Latinx actors were nominated, and interestingly enough, one of the even fewer winners is Mercedes J. Ruehl, who is playing Hustlers’ mother-figure bar manager. The other important players are Keke Palmer as Mercedes and Lili Reinhart as Annabelle. Mercedes is a bubbly and sexy associate who is trying to make enough money to get her boyfriend out of prison, among other things. Palmer is always a delight to watch, plus here she nailed her role. Annabelle is the cute and gullible one of the group. She was kicked out of her home and rejected by her family, thus joining the crew because she needed money to afford her own place. Hustlers’ story is already “too good to be true” with real anecdotes not even included probably wilder than we can imagine, and the result being an oft hilarious movie. But for some reason, they thought it best to add some slapstick types of jokes with Annabelle always vomiting on cue. It becomes too repetitive, especially since her character is already the most cliched. It works for viewers already fans of this brand of popular yet basic mechanical humor, but it detracts, or at the very least, annoys, those coming to see a fun yet “grounded” film. Hustlers is very much an ensemble piece with women at the center, so the other girls popping out are played by a cast composed of known actors, performers, and a couple of singers coming for cameo-like scenes. Notably, Cardi B., the famous stripper turned rapper, brings a certain authenticity to the movie in spite of her scenes being a little too on the nose.
"…"...witness the intimacy between the women and a polarizing work environment...""