FILM REVIEW: Hustlers

It would be easy to think that a film about a group of strippers scamming skeevy men out of money would be a recipe for sexploitation, but that's not how Hustlers plays out.

The new film, based on real life events, is actually mostly about the makeshift families we form when times are tough.

In fact, for a film about strippers, there's surprisingly few instances of nudity.

Hustlers follows main characters Dorothy (Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians), or Destiny as she's frequently called, and Ramona (Jennifer Lopez, Second Act).

The pair work at a popular strip club, where Ramona begins teaching the relatively naive Dorothy the ways of their world.

Dorothy soon goes from taking home a measly sum each night to living a life of relative luxury - fur coats, expensive bags and high heels included.

But the high life is short-lived, as the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/08 wreaks havoc with their livelihoods.

Where once the strip clubs were filled with moneyed-up folks ready to splash some cash, they are now practically barren, devoid of the rich and (sometimes) famous.

Captivating: Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez give captivating performances in the new film inspired by real life events, Hustlers, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

Captivating: Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez give captivating performances in the new film inspired by real life events, Hustlers, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

That's when the hustling really kicks into gear.

Anyone who's seen the film's trailer or read anything about Hustlers will know that the characters' exploits are not exactly legal.

And while the women themselves explain away the illegality - Ramona says "the game is rigged and it does not reward people who play by the rules" - the film doesn't exactly absolve them of their antics. But, at the same time, it doesn't show their marks as victims. They are 'Wall Street guys' who stole from everyone's retirement funds and therefore deserve whatever is coming to them, it seems to say.

Despite all the crimes, at its heart Hustlers is about finding connection and building a family.

The relationship between Dorothy and Ramona anchors the film, but the support characters - Keke Palmer's Mercedes and Lili Reinhart's Annabelle chief among them - also form the larger family unit.

Wu and Lopez both give amazing performances, the latter (truly captivating on stage) arguably giving the best performance of her career.

Rating: 7.5/10