David O. Russell
- Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld
- Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser
- Bradley Cooper as Richie DiMaso
- Jeremy Renner as Carmine Polito
- Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
Loosely inspired by the FBI ABSCAM sting operation of the 1970’s, American Hustle is a slick, well-acted crime comedy with eccentric characters and themes of survival, deception and scamming. The style may distract from the narrative for some, but David O. Russell’s film is for the most part as tightly constructed as the perm donned by Bradley Cooper’s character. Boasting an excellent A List cast who all bring their talents to the forefront also helps with the success of American Hustle.
It’s 1978, Irving Rosenfeld is a con artist who is aided by the stunningly seductive former stripper Sydney Prosser who he is crazy in love with despite the fact he is married to Rosalyn and has a young son. Sydney poses as an English Lady of the Manor in order to help with the various cons they pull. Their scams are going pretty well until they are busted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso. Rather than hand them up to justice, he instead thinks of a better use for the two. He persuades them into helping him with sting operations, one in which involves Carmine Polito, the Mayor of New Jersey. As the operations continue, they become more dangerous as the mob becomes involved and Irving’s unstable wife Rosalyn begins to suspect something . But in the game of conning, nothing is as clear as it appears and our characters find themselves wound up in deceit and corruption. Prepare for snappy visual style, 70’s grooves and wardrobes, and a whole lot of fun as American Hustle delivers a humour filled journey through the world of con artists.
David O. Russell directs with visual nods to Scorsese and other crime capers. It is impossible not to watch the snappy edits and use of soundtrack and not think of a Scorsese movie. Although the visuals may overpower the story at certain points and the tone can be a little uneven, the script manages to entertain the audience none the less. Featuring humour galore and interesting characters to flesh out the sharp, snazzy story and the various incidents arising from Richie’s complicated plans. Various scenes that stand out are Irving’s morning routine of styling his elaborate comb over, the sassy Sydney dancing with Richie to the sound of Donna Summer and the unpredictable Rosalyn’s run in with a microwave (which she refers to as a space oven). Special praise must go to costume and hair styling as it is second to none. From gaudy ties to slinky sequined gowns and perms , American Hustle has major props when it comes to styling these characters that populate this crime comedy.
Yet the biggest impression and the thing you will remember the most, is the talented and starry cast of American Hustle. Christian Bales absolutely nails the role of Irving, giving us an interesting character who can be smart, jealous and skilled. Bale gained around 40 lbs for the role and the results show his commitment to the role and how skilled an actor he is. Amy Adams provides a multi-faceted performance in the form of Sydney; she’s intelligent, at times ruthless and sexy as hell. Adams shows us all these sides to her that helps us wonder which side her character really is on in this thrilling con game. Bradley Cooper is an absolute hoot as the over eager FBI agent Richie, he really does make your side split with some of the remarks he comes out with. Jeremy Renner manages to give us a sympathetic character as Carmine, the mayor who makes bad decisions for good reasons and as a result is drawn into the operations. Rounding out the main cast is Jennifer Lawrence as the unstable and spurned Rosalyn. Lawrence really is hysterical in this movie and the film gains a certain vibrancy and spontaneity whenever Rosalyn is onscreen as you wonder what she will possibly do next.
Snappy, hysterical and all round good fun, American Hustle is stylish and well executed. The substance may be slightly lacking, yet you will probably not notice because of the stunning central performances provided. American Hustle is some of the most fun I’ve had at the cinema for a while.