American Hustle (film)

When considering awards for any artistic genre, one must always consider the source. Very few awards these days require that voters justify their opinions in print, so on the subjectivity-objectivity scale, subjectivity and "popularity," as well as other ingratiating motives, are by far the dominant lenses through which the votes are cast. This shameless approach is usually justified by some form of commercial appeal, as if money were an excuse to rate art as if it were a standardized test by which students are judged on their ability to regurgitate the dogma fed to them at school and through the mass media.

Worst among the offending groups is always the producers, since job #1 for them is fiduciary.

Nonetheless, on occasion, they get some things right; for example, seven Golden Globe nominations for American Hustle.

Underscoring this funny, satirical, well-cast film is a sublime script that begins with a real event, the late 1970s and early 1980s ABSCAM entrapment, to which is added an extremely clever and fictional backstory that delivers lots of laughs, some tense moments, and incisive commentary on social and political realities.

Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld and Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser

Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld
and Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a successful small time con artist trapped in a loveless marriage to Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), whose son he adores and has adopted. He meets the woman of his dreams, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who, like Rosenfeld, graduated from the school of hard knocks and knows the con game as well as he does.

After some success, they get caught by the FBI (Bradley Cooper as FBI Agent Richard "Richie" DiMaso and Louis C.K. as his boss, Stoddard Thorsen) and are forced to work their magic to entrap some big fish, including a few U.S. Congressmen, the mayor of Camden N.J. (Jeremy Renner) and a mob boss (Robert Di Niro [uncredited]).

The clever, unexpected twists and turns of the scamming—between the Irving and Sydney, the FBI, the mayor, and the mob—set this story apart. If you enjoyed The Sting (Redford and Newman) and/or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (either movie or the musical), you'll love American Hustle.

Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld

Jennifer Lawrence
as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
Bale put on 46 pounds for this role. You won't recognize him, except for his incredible performance that could earn him an Oscar. Adams matches his intensity and hyper-awareness while wearing some of the sexiest dresses you're ever going to see. Once again, Lawrence proves to be one of the most talented comediennes around, in an impressively understated manner. Cooper is so earnest in his need to get the credit for a big bust and get the girl (Adams) that you've got to laugh at his shallow manliness. Renner is magnificent as the Italian mayor, with his bouffant and his heartfelt gladhanding. Di Niro's cameo is chilling as the classic mob boss.

The writers even get kudos for properly framing all this, when Irving tells Richie that the folks they entrapped weren't the big money people behind the corrupt system.

American Hustle, directed by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook [2012]), starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Remmer, Robert Di Niro, and Louis C.K., screenplay by Eric Warren Singer and Russell, is now playing at a theatre near you.

Bob Bows


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