Hustlers First Reviews: Jennifer Lopez Is Oscar-Worthy in the Surprise Hit of the Toronto International Film Fest

Critics are calling Hustlers a thrilling, smart, and empowering crowdpleaser that plays like "Scorsese in stilettos."

by | September 8, 2019 | Comments

It’s been a while since Jennifer Lopez has generated Oscar buzz, so the kind of praise we’re seeing for the actress out of the Toronto International Film Festival may surprising at first. But her performance in Hustlers (2019) 87% is the talk of the town following its premiere Saturday night. Fortunately, the movie itself is getting positive reviews overall, too. The first batch of reviews from the festival note that this crime drama, adapted from a New York magazine article about a group of NYC strippers with a more-than-entrepreneurial streak, is not what it looks like based on the advertising. Hustlers is a classic underdog story and an award season crowdpleaser through and through. Its inspirations are far more Scorsese than Showgirls.

Here’s what critics are saying about Hustlers:

Wow, so the movie is better than expected?

“Everything you’ve seen so far is what is known as a ‘cheat’ in the marketing business…[this] is much deeper than all that glitters on the surface.” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

Hustlers is a lot smarter than it initially looks.” – Stephen Whitty, Screen International

Hustlers is never anything less than energetic, freight-train-fast, and impeccably plotted…it’s also a welcome twist on the crime thriller genre and the ripped-from-the-headlines, can-you-believe-this-is real drama.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“There are so many immediate pleasures and vicarious thrills to be had in Hustlers, a giddy, gaudy blast of a movie.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

We’re hearing Goodfellas comparisons: True?

“An incisive commentary on women in the workplace…surprisingly enough, it shares cinematic DNA with the 1981 juggernaut 9 to 5.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

“[It] does for a gang of New Yawk bad girls what Goodfellas did for the mob…adapted by writer-director Lorene Scafaria at her most Scorsese.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Scorsese in stilettos, Goodfellas slathered in frosty lip gloss and body glitter, this is a must-see Girl’s Night Out movie.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Scafaria’s direction is equally confident [with] an opening that’s Martin Scorsese by way of Paul Thomas Anderson.” Stephen Whitty, Screen International 

Hustlers soon blossoms into the kind of snappy sendup producer Adam McKay might make, with a deft and definite feminine touch.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Hustlers is a crowdpleaser to its core.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

(Photo by Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Is it empowering?

“Many filmmakers will say their film tackles female empowerment, but few do the legwork to make [it] an integral and authentic part of the story. Scafaria accomplishes that.” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

“This slyly feminist movie pushes empowerment, too; it’s a film about being in control, not losing it.” – Stephen Whitty, Screen International

“Scafaria validates her heroines from the start by focusing on them as women whose internal struggles and friendships with each other are far more interesting than their obvious physical allure.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

Hustlers represents an acrobatic celebration of unbridled femininity, in which liberated ladies take full advantage of the power they hold over men.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“[Scafaria] re-contextualizes the way women’s bodies are looked at by almost completely ignoring the men in the room…Scafaria’s camera adopts the perspective of the women in the club, admiring the strength and athleticism of the work.”- Esther Zuckerman, Thrillist

“The film is so eager to double down on its messages of female empowerment that it ignores any of the seedy kitchen-sink realism that the beginning of the film gestures at.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

J-Lo’s best performance to date?

“Not enough can be written about how stunning Lopez is in perhaps her best performance to date.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

“It’s the sort of role that only a true movie star could pull off, so much of it reliant on a rare, intoxicating magnetism.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“Yes, Lopez is THAT good.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said

(Photo by Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Wait, J-Lo is Oscar-level good?

“A full-force performance from Jennifer Lopez [is] genuinely deserving of awards consideration.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Awards attention would be deserved but a far greater result would be a more expansive set of roles in her future.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“Scafaria assists by coaxing a performance out of Lopez that is so unexpectedly grounded and moving you’ll be walking out of the theater praying she doesn’t have to wait another 22 years to showcase her rich, dramatic talents again.” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

How is the rest of the cast?

“[Constance] Wu, who broke out with…a rather flat and charmless turn in Crazy Rich Asians, is far more effective here, slickly switching between vulnerable and manipulative.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“[Lopez is] matched excellently by Wu…she wavers between wryness, exhaustion, and affinity for the person who becomes her business partner and close friend.” – Esther  Zuckerman, Thrillist

“Cardi B’s relegated to a few early scenes and then shuffled offstage for the remainder of its running time..but boy, does she own the screen when she’s on.” – Sara Stewart, New York Post

(Photo by Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Does the movie have any problems?

“As the plan falls apart, Scafaria’s film almost follows…but it’s a brief dip.” – Benjamin Lee, Guardian

“It runs out of steam early on…there is nobody to root for here, an issue that leads to checking one’s watch midway through the show. ” – Sara Stewart, New York Post

“There’s an unnecessary wrap-around device…that lacks the innovation that Scafaria’s subjects have in spades.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“A number of the narrative transitions are wonky, some characters feel a bit too disposable, there is one particular reshoot that is glaringly noticeable…” – Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

“Scafaria’s script is missing some of the edges of her earlier films…this picture feels a little too polished, a little safe…” – Stephen Whitty, Screen International

Should we pop a bottle and make a night of it?

“This is a movie made to be experienced with an audience.” – Beandrea July, Hollywood Reporter

Hustlers premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019. It will be in theaters September 13, 2019.


Hustlers (2019)

Adjusted Score: 101.93%
Critics Consensus: Led by a career-best performance from Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers is a uniquely empowering heist drama with depth and intelligence to match its striking visual appeal.
Synopsis: Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall... [More]
Directed By: Lorene Scafaria

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Comedy Star Trek Song of Ice and Fire Comics on TV game show Sundance TV Land Comedy Central elevated horror vampires batman TCA Winter 2020 Film Festival true crime Family Reality christmas movies Teen Hallmark Christmas movies Toys Columbia Pictures independent stand-up comedy Oscars The Walking Dead Mary Poppins Returns police drama Writers Guild of America APB Lifetime Christmas movies Comic Book Bravo Netflix Mudbound dc thriller medical drama HBO Max comics Brie Larson toy story finale First Reviews blaxploitation Academy Awards History strong female leads Creative Arts Emmys Amazon Prime Video Countdown crossover Holidays cancelled cancelled TV series Freeform Tomatazos crime thriller 2016 romance tv talk Ellie Kemper series joker 24 frames halloween New York Comic Con CBS adaptation 007 Britbox witnail Apple TV+ Amazon Prime Ovation foreign Action Schedule hispanic 2019 Marathons Biopics Netflix Christmas movies Lionsgate casting zombies YouTube Red Character Guide breaking bad period drama Mystery binge mockumentary OWN Arrowverse Black Mirror anime CNN crime drama based on movie kids biography 2015 American Society of Cinematographers RT History golden globes Thanksgiving Tumblr Adult Swim ABC Family cats Esquire Drama spider-man latino Apple TV Plus FXX Winter TV CMT award winner Sony Pictures Set visit Polls and Games Nickelodeon IFC Films Podcast Country Hallmark Paramount Horror sequel Discovery Channel politics MCU children's TV TCM Rocky teaser Trophy Talk CBS All Access Avengers BET TCA Video Games cars TLC mutant Anna Paquin Musical Pirates LGBT Nominations Mindy Kaling miniseries screenings Disney Channel Photos Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spain zero dark thirty versus MTV TV Winners Fantasy dragons Cosplay sitcom Watching Series 71st Emmy Awards ghosts justice league Chernobyl LGBTQ video El Rey Pixar richard e. Grant Super Bowl ESPN E3 FOX OneApp Peacock Music Sundance Now Spring TV cults Year in Review Women's History Month transformers E! Tubi Calendar Fall TV jamie lee curtis rotten movies we love Summer RT21 Spike cinemax 21st Century Fox Captain marvel Premiere Dates Interview FX Quiz Star Wars X-Men National Geographic Logo Fox News animated Box Office GIFs PaleyFest streaming social media WGN Crunchyroll Disney+ Disney Plus Election Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt green book Mary Tyler Moore Acorn TV DC Comics adventure MSNBC diversity Disney YA war Showtime boxoffice psycho CW Seed Binge Guide Holiday IFC ITV science fiction aliens SundanceTV slashers comiccon disaster GoT Turner BBC America Ghostbusters Turner Classic Movies Cartoon Network Stephen King Trailer Pop SDCC serial killer dceu USA Network DGA composers Emmy Nominations Paramount Network Heroines Superheroes Emmys A&E Nat Geo San Diego Comic-Con hist Grammys Red Carpet Lifetime YouTube YouTube Premium singing competition Kids & Family DC Universe travel space talk show WarnerMedia game of thrones The Arrangement USA spinoff Awards Tour robots supernatural GLAAD werewolf cooking spanish language Rom-Com Tarantino quibi Disney streaming service Sundance TV dramedy BBC sports Hulu Lucasfilm 2018 Food Network Film Infographic See It Skip It historical drama SXSW directors renewed TV shows Shondaland 2020 Marvel Studios romantic comedy Opinion south america NYCC indie DC streaming service TIFF canceled TV shows spy thriller The Purge harry potter Superheroe theme song Disney Plus Western Spectrum Originals Dark Horse Comics ABC festivals Mary poppins discovery ratings free movies sag awards Cannes Walt Disney Pictures Rocketman movies AMC Extras HBO nature Apple Syfy Reality Competition facebook Starz Epix name the review Best and Worst 2017 VH1 unscripted political drama First Look doctor who Rock 45 Elton John Warner Bros. TV renewals blockbuster DirecTV anthology Sneak Peek Shudder TNT A24 Amazon Sci-Fi VICE natural history Vudu cartoon The CW reboot Awards Marvel Musicals Classic Film Christmas Crackle Endgame docudrama Martial Arts TCA 2017 television TBS The Witch PBS book what to watch technology canceled 20th Century Fox Animation crime comic Pride Month Marvel Television Masterpiece Pet Sematary cancelled TV shows psychological thriller cancelled television Certified Fresh cops screen actors guild Trivia NBC Universal TruTV President Valentine's Day revenge zombie Television Academy Baby Yoda