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Hustlers (2019)

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Copied from Letterbox'd:

Hustlers is currently 88% at Rotten Tomatoes, giving more evidence, if needed, that I am hopelessly out of touch with critical consensus.

It's not that this is a bad movie (morally or artistically), but it is a dully predictable one, lacking the character development of Molly's Game or the guts to be judgmental of The Wolf of Wall Street (a movie that similarly underwhelmed me).

JLo is fine, but neither Constance nor Destiny is particularly interesting, so there is no payoff emotionally in the deteriorating of their relationship or the choices they make about it. I think, remembering Siskel's famous maxim that a movie needs to be more interesting than a documentary about the people who made it eating lunch, that this sort of movie is more interesting to write about (or to read women's writing about) than it is to actually watch. Despite short scenes and heavy lean on montage elision to hit only the highlights, it draaaaags, reminding me that so much of the pleasure of Molly's Game was in Sorkin's writing.

Scafaria also wrote Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I despised, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which I liked much more than most. Looking back over my review of Seeking a Friend, I see part of what I appreciated about it was that it took time to build on its premise and that its characters were self-aware enough to reflect on their situation rather than simply lament it.

Hustlers, by contrast, ends with a coda that is as inevitable as it is predictable, one that reduces what we've just seen to a metaphor rather than a symbol. I did like a scene where Destiny listens on the phone to one of her victims. It is in this scene that the film looks down the path of really examining the hustlers' actions and motivations before deciding, screw it, that's just too hard, let's just make that a conflict for this scene and not the whole movie.

P.S. Lili Reinhart, so good in Miss Stevens, is wasted here. I see from looking up her filmography that according to RT, Miss Stevens made a whopping four thousand, four hundred dollars at the box office, which is probably less than  Reinhart made for each minute her character was on the screen in Hustlers. If it is, at least some good came from this movie.

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