Hollywood has yet to recover from the savagery that ensued Sony with the release of Paul Feig’s ‘sheboot’ of Ghostbusters (2016).
Scrubbed clean any trace of the original male cast, the persecution had by that film for being a gender revisionist take on the franchise speaks to a culture uncomfortable with the representation and presentation of women.
While the corpse of Ghostbusters (2016) hangs by a gibbet as a backstep towards progress, the release of reimagined reboots with high-profile female leads has not haunted studios from applying creative license.
Remaining (extremely) faithful to 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, comedy-caper The Hustle continues this legacy of Hollywood ‘sheboots’ – heralded by bold performances from Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
The exchanges between Hathaway and Wilson, two con-artists competing for the other’s exile in an affluent French beachside is as sly as it is venomous. Similar in vibe to 2018’s dark-comedy A Simple Favour (another Paul Feig vehicle), The Hustle inhabits the risque and cheeky attitude of French filmmaking with aplomb. The film’s humour is as bone-dry as a glass of expensive champagne, with the barbs served by Wilson and Hathaway being just as delicious, albeit repetitive.
It is hard to gather whether Hathaway’s accents are deliberately bad or not. However, they do not deter from her bravery to take risks in a performance that seemingly aligns with her desire to champion female films. Rebel Wilson continues to shine a light on body positivity though un-does some of the impact by continuing to subject herself to injury and ridicule as a show of appeal.
With the Met Gala having just occurred, it feels topical to bring up 2018’s Ocean’s 8 – a film that also uses gender as a plot-device of going unnoticed. This depiction of femininity embodied by Hathaway and Wilson, women who personify different ideals ranging from chic to unabashedly messy, use their stance to manipulate machismo.
If you read deep between the lines, The Hustle presents a story of women being unable to co-exist with one another, speaking to a theme in society that forces women to be their own worst enemy. It is with its deceptive cleverness that sees the movie double not just as an outrageous comedy but as subtext.
The Hustle’s greatest success lies in its refusal to let topicality get in the way of entertainment – creating a fresh perspective and a purpose for a retelling that allows the film to become more than just a statement piece. This is a credit and unsurprising achievement for director Chris Addison, who has a track record of exploring power and gender with his work on HBO’s VEEP.
While comedically overbearing at times, The Hustle’s ability to bring new meaning and highlight the mistreatment of women by men proves decent and is the film that Ghostbusters (2016) wishes it was.
This is advertised as a remake of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ (1988) with Michael Caine, Steve Martin and Glenne Headly. ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ is actually a remake of ‘Bedtime Story’ (1964) with David Niven, Marlon Brando and Shirley Jones.
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