Put on your hustling shoes for this one. Christian Bale and the rest of the pitch-perfect cast certainly did put on their hustling shoes for this late 70’s revival. Hello moviegoers, David O. Russell follows up his wildly successful “Silver Linings Playbook” with another winner in “American Hustle” which he also co-wrote with Eric Singer. Russell, who has worked with a number of these players before on other films, artfully blends the style and music of the 70’s with agile exchanges of curious dialogue that result in a rather effective and funny interpretation of the con-job genre.
The movie starts with Bale, who once again embodies his role both physically and psychologically, sports a paunch while putting his come-over together. He plays Irving Rosenfeld a businessman and con-artist who is not exactly smalltime, but he knows his con and has all the angles figured out.
Irving is married to the chatty and inept Rosalyn Rosenfeld (who is played by Jennifer Lawrence). He has adopted her son but their marriage isn’t working, and she threatens to expose him as a fraud if he ever tries to get a divorce.
‘American Hustle’ (3 sweet potatoes out of four) Stars: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, CK Louis; Director: David O. Russell; Genre: Crime, Drama, Comedy; Rated: R; running time: 138 minutes; Opens Friday, December 13th.
His girlfriend and associate Sydney Prosser, (played by Amy Adams), is a former stripper who eyes a better lot in life for herself. Sydney is charismatic and versatile and so is Adams who renders both Sydney and Sydney’s persona, a British aristocrat named Lady Edith Greensly, whom is used to appeal to clients.
They are doing just fine until the other shoe drops. That shoe comes in the form of an overambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (who’s played by Bradley Cooper) with all the machismo of a young lawman trying to make a name for himself. DiMaso busts the con artist couple and leverages Irving and Sydney into an undercover operation in exchange for all charges against them being dropped. He takes a liking to Sydney or Edith as he knows her, and the two will go out for a night of dancing in a scene that evokes the feel and sexuality of the late 70’s disco era.
DiMaso sees the opportunity to catch even bigger fish and the net he casts continues to widen at an almost comical level, but he is as serious as his hair stylist. Enter Mayor Carmine Polito (played by Jeremy Renner) as a man of the people and Renner makes you believe that he is. Polito will be duped into thinking a phony sheik will invest large sums of money into rebuilding his city of Camden and the casinos of Atlantic City.
DiMaso convinces his boss Stoddard Thorsen (played by C.K. Louis) to ante up the two million dollars Irving needs to convince Carime the sheik is the real deal; and later he using other means of convincing his boss a second time as his net continues to widen to including a ruthless mob boss (Victor Tellegio Robert De Niro).
DiMaso’s scheme would eventually entrap a number of congressmen, lead to the introduction of the term science oven and a ceremonial dagger would make an appearance in two of the funnier scenes in the movie, before it would all come to an end.
Beyond the big hair, big personalities and ambitious schemes, “American Hustle” thematically speaks to the idea of people wanting more out the game of life than settling for the hand they have been dealt or started with, and the less than ethical methods they are willing to use in accomplishing their objectives. In ‘American Hustle’ it will come down to Irving’s ability to hustle a way to keep the peace.
The movie is too self-aware at times, but “American Hustle” is certainly one of the better movies I’ve seen this year and I give it 3 sweet potatoes out of four. This has been your resident moviegoer and I will see you after the movies at moviegoersview.com.