American Hustle

December 26th, 2013





American Hustle is a film made from the same cloth as great movies of the past. If you have a passion for film; a love for a movie that will take you back in time, combined with an excellent ensemble cast, and with perfect story telling, than American Hustle is the movie for you. It is certainly Director David O. Russell’s dedication film to Martin Scorsese movies with a style resembling Goodfellas or Casino. Only this time it is the 1970’s and he is telling us a “somewhat” true version of the Abscam sting operation that took place in New Jersey. The performances from all members of this cast are amazing and it makes American Hustle one of the top 5 movies of the year!

Christian Bale stars as Irving Rosenfeld, a con-artist who sells fake loans to people down on their luck and fake art to those who cannot tell the difference. Bale is flawless in his performance. The actor surprises us in a way he has never done. This role is the reverse of his efforts in past films such as The Machinist or Rescue Dawn. Bale put on some 30 pounds to transform himself into a toupee wearing beer bellied swindler. He has met his equal at a party by the name of Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). She is a smart and sexy woman who becomes infatuated with Irving and the opportunity to be someone other than herself. 

Russell focuses the story on the two leads love wrapped around their world of scamming. As each scene begins a new actor enters and the films authenticity grows more and more. 1970’s clothing style is elaborate and detailed. Decor of every room is out of a 70’s issue of good housekeeping. When we learn that Irving owns a chain of dry cleaners they become Sydney’s personal closet. When the two make love among the spinning clothes racks it is not the fear of being caught that scares them, but the fear of the lies revealing who they really are. The tune of “Dirty Work” by Steely Dan plays in the back and sets the tone just right. As the lyric says “I foresee terrible trouble, and I stay here just the same”. 

Shortly after, FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) turns the scam on them. Rosenfeld and Sydney must work for DiMaso as he uses them to help stop greedy and corrupt politicians in New Jersey. One of these men is Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). The plot gets thicker and thicker. And then we find out that Rosenfeld has a wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) at home with a kid. Escaping from who we really are is certainly not an easy thing to do. 

There is a  continuous theme that being who you really are is not the way to succeed in life. One by one David O. Russell reveals that not only are we watching a film about a couple of con artists, but also that all of the major players are in some way not who they say they are. They are running away from it all. Sydney is an American girl who wants others to believe she is a British Bank expert. DiMaso is a hard nosed FBI agent who is still trying to make a name for himself and he does this by trying to use Rosenfeld to fight corruption. Rosenfeld becomes close friends with Mayor Polito and it pains him to know that his friendship with him that is the most genuine friendship, is one big set-up. Of all the people who is honest to themselves it is Rosalyn. She is brutally honest. 

When Rosalyn walks into the film like the firecracker that she is it is evident that she is confident in herself. Jennifer Lawrence again gives another outstanding, Oscar worthy performance. It is Rosalyn’s honesty that never allows us to hate her. Yes, she is young, naive, even a bit crazy, but her ability to know who she is in every situation gives her a confidence that none of the other main characters have. 

American Hustle is film that will have fans intrigued, laughing, and loving every minute. The story never bores. The 1970’s aesthetic is not over the top. It is on point. The soundtrack is not clichéd with songs like The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”. It introduces new popular music. 

What David O. Russell has here is a well told story. One that I would even dare say is one of the best in the last 20 years. He has put together a perfect loyal gang of actors from his previous films (Bale and Adams from The Fighter and Cooper and Lawrence from Silver Linings Playbook) that work every scene to perfection. This is Russell’s tribute to Martin Scorsese. It is not an exact duplicate. It certainly looks like the originals, but if you look very closely it has his own unique touches. This movie is great. It must be the real deal! 


Written By: Leo Brady

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