September 18, 2019 – Liberals have implemented various income redistribution schemes, and implemented some over the years in many countries, including the United States, where top tax rates that used to be 90 percent are now down to about 30 percent, but this movie is about a different kind of redistribution scheme, illegal, and very sexy. This movie based on actual events (namely a 2015 magazine article "The Hustlers at Scores" by Jessica Pressler).
In the days before the great recession that began in 2008, New York strippers with Wall Street clients were making a lot of money in strip clubs. Two of these strippers, Ramona (played by Jennifer Lopez of “Second Act”) and her friend and protégé Destiny (Constance Wu of “Crazy Rich Asians”) get rich quick in high end strip clubs, but the gravy train stops in 2008. Destiny gets pregnant and drops out, losing touch with Ramona.
After a few years, Destiny meets Ramona again. Desperate for money, the two cook up a scheme to quickly separate rich men from their money. The scheme involves luring men with the promise of sex, then doctoring their drinks with drugs and running up big bills on their credit cards while they are incapacitated.
The scheme works because the group of women involved are careful in their choice of victims. The victims, usually married men, are threatened with blackmail if they attempt to recover their money or involve the police. The scheme works well for a time, but it eventually falls apart when some of the women start making mistakes.
This story is told via flashbacks as part of an interview of Destiny by Elizabeth, a reporter (played by Julia Stiles of “Jason Bourne”). Destiny plays up the difference between herself and Elizabeth in one scene where she points out the fact that Elizabeth has led a fairly sheltered life, and has never had to deal with the realities of life the way that she has. Destiny sometimes had to trade sex for money to support her daughter.
The center of the story is the relationship between Destiny and Ramona, which comes to a head when circumstances force Destiny to decide between her loyalty to Ramona and the welfare of her own daughter. This is extra difficult because Ramona took Destiny under her wing years before, and she made her a partner in a very profitable business venture.
Most of all, this is a story about marginalized women, living at the seedy edges of society, who decide to make a grab for power. They prove to be quite capable, and powerful, turning the tables on wealthy men who viewed them as helpless prostitutes. As one would expect, given this story line, the subject matter of this movie is quite raunchy. A lot of female flesh is exposed for view. Most of the interactions between the strippers and men is explicitly or implicitly sexual.
Raunchiness aside, this is an entertaining film with captivating characters, especially Destiny and Ramona. Their complex relationship at the heart of this story is compelling. This film rates a B.
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