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Film / The Hustle

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The Hustle is a 2019 comedy film starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, and the third version of the 1964 comedy Bedtime Story.
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Penny Rust (Wilson) is a low brow con artist in America, catfishing men and then convincing them to give her money for a boob job. She travels to France to get richer marks, but in the way she encounters Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway), a high class con artist whose main prey are the same rich men Penny is trying to scam. The situation puts the women at odds with each other, so they decide to settle things once and for all by betting the territory on a single master con.


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Tropes

  • Adorkable: Thomas is an awkward nerd with lots of computer knowledge but poor social skills who nevertheless is willing to do anything to help a poor blind girl he just met. No wonder Penny falls for him.
  • Book-Ends: In her first scene, Penny eludes her pursuers by using her black dress to pass for a garbage bag in a dumpster. In the last scene, both women pull off the trick by using their golden dresses to pass for prop presents under a big Christmas tree.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Two characters are mentioned several times throughout the movie Medusa and Thomas' grandma. They both come to play a part in the ending when it's revealed they're the same person.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Invoked for the con. The famous therapist that this poor girl needs to regain her sight just happens to be at the hotel's lobby at that precise moment. What are the odds?
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  • Daddy's Little Villain: Gender-flipped Thomas' doting grandma taught him to scam.
  • Determinator: It's nothing less than admirable how Penny is able to mantain the deceit through the "therapy session".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Josephine explains that men are easy victims because it never crosses their mind that a woman could be smarter than them and thus they easily let their guard down. This logic gets applied in the ending when Thomas explains that con artists are easy victims because it never crosses their mind that a mark could be smarter than them.
    • Thomas' big app that landed him his fortune seems to actually be pretty useless. He probably used his manipulation skills on investors and users.
  • Ironic Echo: When Josephine is making excuses not to have sex with Mathias, he dismisses all of them by answering "me too", including when she claims to have a boyfriend. When he's trying to make excuses not to have sex with Penny, she likewise dismisses them by answering "me too", including when he claims to have several STDs.
  • In Love with the Mark: Penny falls for Thomas, whom she's tryng to scam and vice-versa.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Penny pretends to be one of these as part of the Lord Of The Rings scam.
  • Meaningful Name: Penny Rust. Her cons are small time (just like the penny is the smallest currency) and Rust evokes an unkempt state, reflecting on her poor manners. Surprisingly, there's no indication that it's an alias.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The movie goes out of its way to reassure the audience that all of the protagonists' victims are terrible people so you can root for the women scamming them out of their money. The marks include shallow bros that only care for a woman's breasts, men selling their wives' jewelry to feed their gambling (while cheating on them), hypocritical politicians that want to make things harder for immigrants and people wanting to get endangered animals for fun. The only decent mark is Thomas except that in that con the marks are actually the women, who being con artists are also not innocent victims.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point, Penny scams a free meal out of a train passenger by pretending her hot friend got kidnapped; the described events of the kidnapping match exactly those from Taken.
    • The con where they get a man to propose and then back off letting them keep the engagement ring is called The Lord of the Rings
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Josephine is a very refined woman with a huge estate and a butler. Penny has no manners, no education and no class, and basically backpacks all the way to France.
  • Training Montage: Josephine teaches Penny how to be elegant and refined, and also for some reason how to throw knives. It seems to take quite a lot of effot until Penny is declared ready, then they pull a con that requires as little manners and elegance as possible, making all the training usless.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Penny fakes blindness to get Thomas' sympathy.
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