The Hustle is bookended by a Meghan Trainor song called Badass Woman. This tells us almost everything we need to know about the “feminist” framing of this gender-flipped riff on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (itself based on the Marlon Brando-starring Bedtime Story). Those films saw men scamming rich, vapid women. In this one, two female con artists (played by Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway) prey on sugar daddies, actively profiting from the fact that “no man will ever believe a woman is smarter than him”. Sexism is structural but yet again, female empowerment and sisterhood are presented as individual, economic imperatives and personal acts of revenge.Clearly, it’s intended as a vehicle for Wilson, who is credited as co-producer, but it’s Hathaway who steals the show. Her natural earnestness and prissy head-girl demeanour are presented as a calculated act.
Simran Hans is a film critic for the Observer and a culture writer whose work has appeared in, among others, BuzzFeed, Dazed, the FADER and Sight & Sound.