Film Review: American Hustle (David O. Russell, 2013) ★★★★

The year is 1978. Con man, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), along with his seductive British mistress and partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), is made to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). The off the cuff agent forces him head-first to a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia as they try to win their immunity.

The film opens with the caption that this story is "mostly true", reminiscent from earlier crime cinema pieces from Cold Blood to Fargo. However, American Hustle sits far from these similar genre titles and asserts itself as a far more significant con-inside-con crime movie. In the decade of big hair, disco pants and science ovens (that's microwaves to you and me), the opening shows a beer bellied Bale sporting a rather impression disco comb over complete with hairspray and glue sculpting in his brown suit and loud shirt. This scene establishes Irving Rosenfeld; a con man who longs to perceive himself as a high flyer yet his cracks show. This also gives us a humorous and accurate insight in to the era's fashions and mise-en-scene.

Following on from this, David O. Russell reunites Bale and Adams from The Fighter (2010) and Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and as though it was made for the Oscars, they are given roles with will guarantee award nods. Not to mention the unbilled surprise guest appearance from a screen legend who embraces the role of mob lord who can also speak fluent Arabic, who knew?

Lawrence, for me, steals the show as she cements her can-do-no-wrong status in an extraordinary scene in which she sings along to Live And Let Die while aggressively performing housework in her velour track suit and yellow kitchen gloves. There are several scenes in which her character, Rosalyn, acts as the comic relief, starting small fires and endangering herself on a sun lamp, exclaiming it was through no fault of her own.

Cooper, on the other hand, is stuck within the least rewarding role yet his performance is outstanding as a lose-cannon FBI agent, holding the attention of its audience. Despite all of the personalities acted by con artists and untruthful characters, their true personalities come to light as the narrative develops. Like all hustles, American Hustle doesn't deliver everything it promises to. The story becomes less believable as the con artists develop a conscience and become more aware of their wrong-doing and spineless ways.

On a scene-by-scene basis, it is undoubtedly a dazzling film with clear inspirations from Martin Scorsese, Casino (1995) and Boogie Nights (1997) are explicitly evoked. The camera prowls from 70's luxury hotels and suburban homes, wincing at the velour suits and shag carpets and pausing to relish the kitschy kitchen interior. All in all, American Hustle presents an incredibly well acted, highly enjoyable and amusing film which already cleaned up at the Golden Globes and will no doubt be heavily focussed upon at the Oscars. This film gets a 4 out of 5 Sophie star rating. David O. Russell is, for sure, the way to go if you're hunting an Academy Award nomination and the one to watch on the big screen. Have you seen American Hustle yet? What did you think?

Until next time film fans, 



  1. I just saw this movie last weekend and really liked it! You have an awesome blog! I've chosen you for the Liebster Award! Check it out on my blog.



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