Review: American Hustle
This marks my second entry into the on-going Oscar movie related reviews. American Hustle is directed by David O. Russell, who also did the widely popular Silver Linings Playbook last year. He brings back actors he is familiar with from that film and his other film from longer back in The Fighter. Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner. It is a star studded cast but also masterfully written with plenty of humor making it easily one of the top films of the year. It is no surprise at all to see that it is up for so many awards this season as it is very deserving. Of course, the film is loosely based off of events that actually transpired back in the late 70's, but the film takes liberties to make it into a more engaging story to tell. Which they even make light of before the film even begins.
The film starts off following con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who had just met and started a relationship together while also working jobs together. Sydney improved Irving's scams posing as a British aristocrat "Lady Edith Greensley". While also being a good couple, Irving still has a wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), whom he has a child with that he is reluctant to leave. All in all they were a great team, up until the inevitable happened, they got caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso catches them in a loan scam, but offers them a deal in which they will be released if they can line up four additional arrests. Sydney opposes the argument but once she sees that DiMaso seems to fancy her, she tells Irving that she has a plan to grow close to him only to manipulate him and burn him at the end.
Irving has a friend that pretends to be an Arab Sheikh who is looking for investments in America, which an associate of his suggests that the Sheikh do business with Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of Camden, New Jersey. The Mayor is campaigning to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City but he has been struggling to raise the necessary funds. DiMaso devises a plan to entrap Polito with the help of Irving and Sydney. However, DiMaso is a bit over eager which scares off Polito, leaving Irving to clean up the mess and in the process he and Polito become close friends. This of course leads Irving to feel conflicted as he needs to go through with the plan, but he does not want to hurt his friend.
David O. Russell films have a certain feel to them. They move quickly, pacing is never an issue, the humor is always there with solid writing and terrific performances You get the same in this film. Christian Bale delivers a solid performance as Irving and truly leads the film with his calm but stern demeanor. Bradley Cooper also is great as the hot shot and unbalanced Richie DiMaso where he is able to show off his penchant for comedic timing but even the ability to deliver a layered performance. Jennifer Lawrence shines in her role as Rosalyn the crazy and childish wife. All this characters were brought to life by tremendous actors, all of them were flawed but still likable which in the hands of lesser actors would be a tough act to pull off. I would argue that this was the best film of the year, and it is my pick for Best Picture of the Year.