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Review: The Hustle – “Utterly dull”

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The Hustle had such potential: a gender flip take on an old story that’s all about women using the way men underestimate them to con said men out of their millions. Brilliant. Or so I thought…

The film follows Penny (Rebel Wilson), a small-time Australian con-artist, and a higher class of con-artist Josephine (Anne Hathaway) who meet and team up in the sun-kissed French coast. Josephine, realising she can’t get rid of Penny, decides to take her on as a protégé and teaches her all that she knows about conning rich men out of a chunk of their wealth, even bringing her in on a con that requires a ‘sister’ role.

What a shame, then, that this new version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is so painfully bad from start to finish. For a film that is pitched on being about two women conning money out of the men who’ve wronged them, we learn nothing about why they do what they do or what’s led them there. They have no personality or motivations and are so utterly petty and self-serving that you don’t care about whether they win or lose. There are plenty of opportunities to explore their history to make us engage in even the smallest way but we are given nothing. Then we’re introduced to their new mark as they compete to swindle this man out of a small fortune. And he’s such an adorable puppy of a man from the outset that there’s just no way we’d get behind swindling this hoody-wearing guy out of his cash.

There’s no development or growth for any of the characters. We have nobody to root for, nobody to laugh at or with or even to care about. Things just unfold and you sit there and watch, waiting to react in a way that’s a bit more compelling than just sighs and eye rolls. Personally, I tittered once during the whole film and it was about as half-arsed a titter as the film itself and I honestly couldn’t tell you what the joke even was. The few moments of just-about-passable comedy are shown in the film’s trailer so there aren’t even any surprises there.

Unlike some well-made reimaginings of old films, there’s no modern spin on the old tale here. It’s just more of the same but without any of the charm, personality or humour of the original. The Hustle is utterly dull. Don’t let it hustle you out of your money or time.

The Hustle is in UK cinemas from 10th May 2019.

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