Rating: 5 Stars
Young and unexperienced, Destiny turns to alpha female and star dancer Ramona when she isn’t making enough money at her workplace- a wall street strip joint. When the 2008 recession hits, they lose the custom of their rich regulars and embark on a dangerous mission to gain their dollars.
First of all, this is not just a movie primarily about Strippers. This is a film about female empowerment, the working class, the recession and wall street. It is based off a long form article called ‘The Hustlers at Scores’ written by journalist Jessica Pressler. The film at first has ‘Coyote Ugly’ vibes. Young woman starts working in the ‘big, bad city’ to earn some money to reach her dream. For Destiny (Constance Wu), her dream was to pay off her Grandmother’s debts, an indication of her soft and kind character. But she is timid, inexperienced and reaches out to Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) – their star dancer who makes the most money night after night. Backstage, we meet all of the girls getting ready to start their shift. In a society that regards sex work as ‘cheap’ and ‘scandalous’, these strippers are represented the same as any worker in the staff room of a retail store or a cloakroom in the back of a restaurant. They talk about their problems, they talk about their men and their financial struggles. One girl says, “You have no idea how much I wish to be sat at home with no makeup and my pyjamas” exhibiting how this is just any job and the audience should view it as one.
The customers are wall street climbers. Mostly married, always rich and with money to dispose for things they like. They regard the women as this, just ‘things they can buy’ and are willing to pay a high price for the finer things, which is why Ramona makes the most money. She’s the most experienced, she treats her job like acting to bring in the money to support her daughter, Juliette. “Motherhood is a mental illness” she often says throughout the film, as she constantly does things that aren’t always morally right so her daughter can have better opportunities. It’s part of the reason why in the real life article, Pressler presents the characters as female version’s of Robin Hood’s ‘Merry Men’ hustling money to have a better life.