David O. Russell’s, American Hustle is a frank and humorous homage to Martin Scorsese that, despite not achieving the dizzying heights of Scorsese’s work, manages to con you into enjoying the two hours that unfold. Have you been cheated? Maybe. Do you feel like you’re being cheated? No.
American Hustle is the story of Irving Rosenfeld after he and partner/lover Sydney Prosser/Edith are caught by officer Richie DiMaso running a ‘perfectly’ sized loan scam. Richie DiMaso breaks them a deal, they can either help him catch four guys, who turn out to be quite big fish (metaphorically speaking), or go to prison. They decide to help him.
Russell takes the tried and true formula from his two previous features, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook which for the most part star the main cast of, American Hustle. He then gives his little Scorsese homage little scope that works on a grandeur scale, a lot like Russell’s 1999, Three Kings. Despite the film overflowing into other plot strands, he constantly keeps story development focused on Bale, Cooper, Adams and Lawrence and it works wonders for the film. The story is well done, however I wouldn’t say it is particularly exceptional when compared to this years Oscar contenders.
Russell’s movie is a lot like the Rembrandt painting that is mentioned early on, “It’s so good that it’s real to everybody…who’s the master: the painter or the forger?” Russell has managed to make a slick Scorsese imitation that follows a fantastic formula and comes with wit, humour and a cast to match.
Christian Bale is by far the standout performance in this film. He has shown in the past that he works brilliantly with Russell, securing an Oscar for his role in The Fighter. But his elaborate appearance, gallant grifting and small time appeal really draws you into his performance. Alongside Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and even Jeremy Renner as Mayor Carmine Polito, Bale is a force to be reckoned with. But make no mistake, the rest of the cast (especially Adams and Lawrence) aren’t just eye candy, and Adams’ performance in particular is excellent and she delivers the role almost flawlessly. Everyone takes the helm during Russell’s story about twisted relationships and divided loyalties, they’re all on top form.
It’s a juicy, smart and cool vision of the 70’s that Russell has almost impeccably directed. The film has been edited beautifully alongside the score that uses the music to great effect. Each song choice was used absolutely appropriately and it helps deliver the tone of the film really well.
American Hustle has been receiving a lot of praise since it’s release and it is definitely worth seeing. It’s a sexy and smart film that might not be as raw or funny as Scorsese’s, The Wolf of Wallstreet but it is still a super slick film that has very few problems.
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