Plot: A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.
From the very first moment I heard about this film, quite some time ago, I wanted to see it. Being a fan of David O Russell and a huge lover of period pieces made me crave to see it even more-so. But when I saw the trailer and read some of the audience reviews, even though the critics reviews were glowing to say the least, I was a little skeptical at how this would turn out. And again I was wrong to be skeptical.
The other thing that drew me to this movie, apart from the director and the fact that it is a period piece, is the top notch cast. The cast is practically a who’s who dream cast for a film like this, featuring the brilliant talents of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. Christian Bale played the character Irving Rosenfeld, a wild, but comfortable-in-his-own-shoes conman who is based upon real-life conman Mel Weinberg. Again Bale throws himself into the role, gaining 40 pounds and letting himself go to try to get the look of this type of character – and he succeeded, giving a fantastic performance and keeping the character feeling realistic. Now, I must say at first I didn’t get the obsession with Jennifer Lawrence. Sure, she has given terrific performances, but I didn’t get why everyone is so enamored with her. This is the movie that broke the camel’s back, I see why everyone loves her – she plays her characters brilliantly, at ease, and is not afraid to have fun with it but stays stoically serious when she needs to be. She gives probably the finest performance of the film, besides Adams and Cooper, who are supremely wonderful in their performances of Richie DiMaso and Sydney Prosser. Jeremy Renner gives a standout performance as Mayor Carmine Polito, who was based off of Angelo Errichetti (he passed away in May 2013), and look out for a terrific cameo performance from Robert DeNiro playing mafioso Victor Tellegio.
The screenplay is where it gets difficult to review. Going into this, I knew some about ABSCAM, but infact this movie is based very little on fact. The characters of the film are based upon real people, and the plot is based around a real life sting operation but a huge amount of the details were changed or left out to better dramatize the movie. And personally I think it worked in Eric Warren Singer and David O Russel’s favor, who together wrote an illustrious screenplay. It’s one of the best screenplays of the year in my opinion, but it’s not without its faults. A few parts of the movie felt clunky or unnecessary, and throughout the movie there was a feeling of unevenness – it usually mixed drama, crime, thriller, and comedic elements well but in various places it felt a tad overwhelming, which wasn’t always a bad thing but it got to be somewhat distracting at times.
David O Russell directs the film quite well. Overall this is his third best film in my opinion, with “Silver Linings Playbook” being his second best and “Three Kings” being his best. He really has a flair for stylish direction, and it shines well for this movie – with the flashy getup of the 70s well utilized to create a realistic feel of the decade. The look and feel of this movie definitely felt like it was created in the 1970s, which I highly appreciated, and I also loved the fantastic soundtrack – which mixed 70s rock, blues, and disco with some original pieces orchestrated especially for the soundtrack.
In conclusion, while “American Hustle” is fictional and somewhat uneven, it’s still a flashy, well-acted and well-cast drama that is bursting with wonderful chemistry and wacky comedic moments from its all-star cast. While it’s not the best movie of 2013 overall, it’s still very much worth seeing so it definitely gets my recommendation.
My Rating: 9.5/10
An excellent article on the real American Hustle:
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