Weekend Movie Review: 'Hustlers' And 'The Goldfinch'

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This weekend, themes of friendship, love and family abound in new releases coming to theaters near you.

In the mood for a crowd-pleasing heist film? Look no further than “Hustlers,” a movie about sisterhood starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu as exotic dancers who struggle to stay in business after the 2008 economic recession.

Meanwhile, fans of Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel can watch the story play out onscreen in “The Goldfinch,” starring Oakes Fegley as a grieving, motherless teenage boy whom a patrician (Nicole Kidman) takes in as her surrogate son. Ansel Elgort plays the adult version of the teenager in the film.

Here’s what to see and what to skip this weekend:

Movies Out This Weekend

“Hustlers” — Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu; directed by Lorene Scafaria

Jennifer Lopez leads an all-star cast in Lorene Scafaria’s crime caper movie that is based on Jessica Pressler’s 2014 New York magazine article, “The Hustlers at Scores,” in which the journalist profiled several exotic dancers who scrambled to stay afloat after the 2008 recession.

A story of friendship and sisterhood, the film follows Ramona (Lopez), a veteran pole dancer at a notorious Manhattan strip club, where she leads a pack of newbie dancers — Destiny (Constance Wu), Annabelle (Lili Reinhart), Diamond (Cardi B), Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Liz (Lizzo). In the film, Ramona and her crew ride the boom times of Wall Street like there’s no tomorrow, basking in the glow of this seemingly everlasting world of excess.

Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria, Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, and Julia Stiles attend the Worldwide Premiere of ‘Hustlers’ during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. (Eric Charbonneau/STX)

However, the economic downturn soon hits rock-bottom, and Wall Street collapses. Suddenly, the ladies’ favorite dollar bill-waving stockbrokers stop flooding the gentlemen’s bar. What are they to do now in order to survive the recession? Ramona and Destiny concoct a plan — albeit illicit and dangerous — to stay in the game: drug their clients with memory-blurring cocktails and run up charges on their credit cards.

Simple enough? Yes, that may be the case — but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

See it. Lopez exudes charisma and confidence in her best performance to date since her career-defining work in “Out of Sight.” Plus, single-liners zing with delight in this crowd-pleasing movie.

Watch the trailer:

“The Goldfinch” — Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman; directed by John Crowley

Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel comes to life in John Crowley’s “The Goldfinch,” a poignant story about a young man struggling to move on, let go and leave his tragic past behind.

The film opens with a dreamy sequence set in a hotel room in Amsterdam, where young adult Theo (Ansel Elgort) reflects on his life as he gazes out over a serene canal during a snowfall. Then, the narrative flashes back to 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where 13-year-old Theo (Oakes Fegley) is badly shaken, only minutes after losing his mother in a terrorist bombing attack. Samantha Barbour (Nicole Kidman), a patrician, soon takes the young teenager in as her surrogate son. As he adapts to his new surroundings, he befriends another blast survivor named Pippa (Aimee Lawrence), a young girl who will hold a special place in his heart.

But just when Theo is about to accept his new life with the Barbour family, his dad, Larry Decker (Luke Wilson), suddenly shows up at the massive Manhattan apartment to claim his son. Reluctant and perplexed, Samantha complies with Larry’s request, and Theo relocates with his disgraceful father in Las Vegas, where the young boy soon gets enmeshed with substance abuse.

Years later, the story picks up with Theo (Elgort) back in New York, where he is now a working professional. There, he reconnects with the Barbour family as well as with his childhood crush, Pippa (Ashleigh Cummings). Everything in Theo’s life seems normal, but deep inside, he remains embroiled in his tragic past. Why? The answer lies in a priceless 17th-century painting called “The Goldfinch.”

Skip it. With a running time of nearly 150 minutes, the movie’s flow languishes with two timelines that feel too disjointed, inorganic and convoluted to process.

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