Don’t Let HUSTLERS Get Lost in the Shuffle

One of the best films of the year is out on Blu-ray

Hustlers has remained on my mind since I first saw it in September. There’s much to celebrate about Lorene Scafaria’s work: the original twist on a heist story, the feeling of sisterhood among the women involved, the powerful performances, that flawless pole dance by Jennifer Lopez to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” These are among the reasons the film is near the top of my end-of-the-year best list. It’s the only title I’ve seen four times in 2019, and there’s something new to notice and appreciate in each consecutive viewing.

Although Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona has become part of any awards conversation (and deservedly so!), other facets of the film seem to be forgotten or ignored. Scafaria’s witty and emotionally complex screenplay, adapted from a NYMag article by Jessica Pressler, shows the women’s hunger for power and money and how it affects the close ties between Destiny (Constance Wu) and Ramona. Todd Banhazl’s cinematography keeps Destiny’s point-of-view in mind.

Production designer Jane Musky came up with such a distinct look that the nightclub used for filming kept her re-design (the real owner of the club appears as the man who pays Destiny on her first night). Costume designer Mitchell Travers created the memorable looks of the film, from Ramona’s shimmering pole-dance get-up to the bloodied outfit Destiny wears to take her daughter to school to the fur coat the two women share on the first night they meet.

Hustlers is unique in tone and subject matter, at least among this year’s other releases. Where else can you see a joyous club scene, set to Usher’s “Love in this Club”? (Scafaria said this moment of the shoot “felt like a Renaissance painting.”) The Universal Blu-ray package is light on bonus features — besides a fun commentary from the writer/director as she expresses thanks to her cast and crew throughout — but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth owning… for many future viewings to come.

Special features on the Universal Blu-ray combo pack:

  • Audio commentary from director Lorene Scafaria
  • Trailers for other Universal titles
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