Clipper Online Editor
American Hustle (Paramount)
Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence.
Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Louis C.K., Michael Peña, Jack Huston, Elisabeth Röhm, Erica McDermott, Melissa McMeekin, Colleen Camp, Alessandro Nivola, Dawn Olivieri, Armen Garo.
Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell.
Directed by David O. Russell
David O. Russell is on a roll. The writer-director started a string of best picture contenders with 2011's The Fighter, followed up by last year's Silver Linings Playbook. This year, he's outdone himself with American Hustle, the (somewhat) true story of how a con-artist partnered up with the FBI to entrap several high-profile lawmakers into taking bribes back in the 1970s.
Christian Bale stars as Irving, a toupee-wearing hustler who, despite being married to the beautiful young Roslyn (Jennifer Lawrence), meets and falls in love with Sydney (Amy Adams) after meeting her at a party. Irving and Sydney engage in several schemes to bilk upper-class people out of their money until they are caught re-handed by FBI agent Richi DiMasso (Bradley Cooper). To avoid jail, Irving and Sydney agree to help Richi in a bribery sting against Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the mayor of a major New Jersey town. The scheme includes using a man posing as a wealthy Arab sheik, willing to pay millions for little favors that will help him invest in Atlantic City casinos. The scheme came to be know as "Abscam," (short for "Arab Scam") and even though Russell uses the very real controversy as a backdrop for American Hustle, much of the events and people in the movie were created for theatrical effect and convenience.
As Irving and Sydney butter up Carmine, Roslyn becomes a factor, since the mayor is a family man who is unaware of the Irving/Sydney extramarital affair. Meanwhile, Richi and Sydney spark up a little romance, creating a double-love triangle. As the sting progresses, Richi gets greedy and expands it to include targets in the U.S. Senate and Congress, much to the objections of his boss (Louis C.K.).
Before the bribes take place, Richi also decides to include the Mafia, which makes everyone a little nervous, especially after a meeting with the brutal crime boss Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro). Complicating things further is Roslyn, who strikes up an affair with one of Tellegio's henchmen. Roslyn's loose lips threaten to expose the entire scheme to the Mafia, which makes everyone even more nervous.
The resolution of the conflict is tense and hilarious.
American Hustle is the best film of the year, with a fantastic cast and brilliant script. While Jennifer Lawrence steals every scene she's in, the rest of the ensemble are top-notch. Christian Bale makes a convincing transformation into a chubby, bald, velvet-wearing scumbag-with-a-heart-of-gold, while Amy Adams offers up one of her most enchanting, quirky performances. Bradley Cooper is equally great, but his best moments happen in some very funny scenes with Louis C.K.
David O. Russell has proven that he can not only write great dialogue – but also get the very best from his actors, and American Hustle is no exception. It's also a lot of fun to watch such great actors mesh together to create such rich and complicated characters.
What to know what Jenniffer thinks of the movie? Check out her review here!