In Chris Addison’s new movie, co-written by Jac Schaeffer, The Hustle depicts two very contrasting characters involved in a comedic endeavour in which they try and scam billionaires. Using dumb humor, the audience sees the differences in upper and lower class organized crimes. (SYJ: 2/5)
Review written by FF2 Media Intern Sophia Y. Jin
A man anxiously awaits at a local bar for his blind date, “Penny Rust” (Rebel Wilson), whilst staring at an attractive young blonde with large breasts on his phone screen. When Penny arrives and reveals herself, a different woman than in the photo, he is in disbelief and rudely dismisses her. She continues with her story of how the girl in the picture is actually her sister who needs a few hundred dollars to tide her over for a surgery, which would save her breasts. The shallow man offers to pay for the procedure just as another man bursts into the bar with the cops, busting Penny for her scam about a sister in need of financial help. Penny runs out of the bar and camouflages herself perfectly amongst a pile of trash in her trash bag styled dress. The cops leave and Penny walks free.
Meanwhile, a classy“Josephine Chesterfield” (Anne Hathaway) sits at the bar of a casino and acts like a dumb American who accidentally won a lot of money in a game. A serial gambler, “Mathias” (Casper Christensen), who continuously loses and is notoriously known for gambling his wife’s jewellery, approaches Josephine at the bar and unsuccessfully flirts with her. Whilst he is distracted by her beauty and her winnings, she manages to hustle him out of his wife’s diamond bracelet with the help of her crew consisting of a butler, “Albert” (Nicholas Woodeson), and a security guard, “Brigitte” (Ingrid Oliver).
These two scam artists cross paths on a train en route to Josephine’s hometown in the south of France, where Penny cons a man into buying her dinner. Josephine overhears this encounter and smirks to herself, knowing Penny is a hustler as it takes one to know one. Concerned that Penny will cause trouble, Josephine attempts to con Penny into leaving the town. However, this doesn’t detain Penny, as she learns of Josephine’s true identity and finds her way back to her classy competitor. Under the guise of giving in to Penny’s wishes, Josephine takes Penny on as a student to teach her high end hustling, all the while plotting to get rid of Penny. They then partner up together as ‘sisters’ to steal expensive rings from a series of men who propose to Josephine. When Josephine pays Albert and Brigitte but not Penny, Josephine claims that Penny has much more to learn before she can receive any payment. This prompts Penny to leave, which was all part of Josephine’s plan. It isn’t long before these two cross paths yet again when they try to scam the same crowd. Furious that Penny has not left, Josephine makes a bet with her: whoever manages to scam “Thomas Westerburg” (Alex Sharp), an app creator, wins; the loser must leave.
In director Chris Addison’s new movie, The Hustle, Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway portray extreme opposite characters who each scam for money and valuables. Penny is used to small time scams, whereas Josephine performs much bigger heists. In the beginning it seemed to be an attempt to promote female positivity and empowerment where these two characters show how they are always underestimated by men purely for being a woman, but various events throughout the movie lead me to believe otherwise. The film feels a lacking in the comedy and content department. It seems the writing team was a imbalanced, with just one female screenwriter out of the four. The acting by Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway was good, especially based on the material they had to work with. Nevertheless, the content of the movie was less than expected.
Coach Katusha’s Comments:
The Hustle is a combination of familiar faces, common tropes, luxurious lifestyles, and lots of accents. It’s something you watch at a sleepover with your friends when you’re winding down. This doesn’t seem like a film that is looking for praise in its story or character development.
In agreement with Sophia, I think the acting was done well despite the rocky writing. Anne Hathaway is of course a great choice for the classy Josephine, but some of the character choices written for her are questionable. Is she smart or is she not? Rebel Wilson is the go-to for roles such as Penny, but again, I couldn’t decide whether I loved or hated Penny. Even though the writing by Jac Schaeffer and the team started okay, as the film progressed the focus deviated more on creating the unexpected, rather than on story development. In my opinion, the film suffered because of this. I do wish the comedy was more fun and smart, instead of bland and on the nose–I’m sure the actors would’ve been able to get a lot more out of their characters! (KIZJ: 2/5)
© Sophia Y. Jin (05/17/19) FF2 Media
Does The Hustle pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
Yes, Penny and Josephine talked about money.
Photo Credits: IMDb