In his follow up to last year’s Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell returns to the director’s chair for American Hustle. Russell’s newest film takes a look at the hysterical and somewhat factual life of con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his relationship with his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and the feds in 1970′s New York.  Rosenfeld is a grade-A con man who deals in many various businesses, from stolen art to crooked dry-cleaners. Rosenfeld, along with his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), are forced to work with a new FBI agent, the eccentric Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), in an attempt to bring down politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Rennner) and other white collar criminals.  DiMaso wants to make a name for himself and constantly clashes with his boss Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.) as Richie’s demands grow bigger and crazier. American Hustle offers a glimpse inside the lives of con men, politicians, feds, and gangsters as their lives intertwine and are changed forever.

As soon as the film begins we are introduced to Irving Rosenfeld, who is played by the once again weight fluctuated Christian Bale. Rosenfeld is overweight and has a comb-over that requires more time and care than many people would take to get ready altogether.  Even though he is overweight with this insane comb-over, he carries himself with a great amount of confidence.  To a con man, appearances are everything.  He takes his time to look the part and get into character, and once he looks the part he is smooth enough to win over anyone.  Up and coming FBI agent Richie DiMaso sees that he can use Irving to help him get that big arrest that will make a name for himself.  DiMaso is willing to risk everything and trust Irving because he wants the recognition he feels he deserves.  Irving and girlfriend Sydney must help DiMaso after they are left with no other choice, and need to help him get four big busts.  Things spiral out of control with Irving, Richie, and Sydney as they delve deeper into the world of con-men and corrupt politicians. And to make matters worse, Irving’s insufferable wife Rosalyn, manages to screw things up at every turn.
american-hustle-j-_2769653aJennifer Lawrence gives an amazing performance in this film as the one character who is even more manipulative than Irving himself. The interactions between Bale and Lawrence are electrifying and are by far the most hilarious parts in the film. Irving is used to controlling and conning people, but with his wife it’s the other way around and we quickly realize he’s the one being conned. At times Irving tries to be a good man, providing for his wife and even adopting Rosalyn’s son, Danny, and is a great father figure for the kid. According to Irving, it’s one of the few things he’s done right in life. Rosalyn knows how much Danny means to him and boy does she use it to her advantage. In every scenario we see throughout the film, Rosalyn is always wrong but she knows exactly how to flip the story so that she was right, and it drives Irving crazy. She even has the nerve to use her own son against Irving, and at times it’s enough to make you cringe. Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence have great chemistry, and you often can’t tell which one is playing the other.  The entire cast is perfect as David O. Russell really knows how to get performances from his cast. Bale won the Oscar for The Fighter in 2010 and Lawrence won last year for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.  After seeing the film it’s a safe assumption that one if not multiple actors will be nominated for an Oscar.  David O. Russell can’t seem to do wrong, and seems to be getting better and better with each movie.

The stars carry this film, and the development of the characters is what keeps you engaged in the story.  Yes, the plot is good but it’s fun watching the characters interact with each other and how they change to get certain things they desire.  The funny thing about the story is that the people going after the criminals are actually morally inferior.  The friendships that are made and broken in the film help bring you into these characters lives.  American Hustle is a complex film and one that I’m sure gets better with each view.  There are serious moments broken up into a mostly funny story that you won’t believe actually happened.  American Hustle is a very funny movie that keeps you engaged and laughing the entire time. David O. Russell has created a beautiful piece of cinema, and many of the films’ sequences utilize camera movement that add to the feeling of being there as if your part of the story. This well established director has once again created a film with an intricate story and well-developed characters who you can root for, even if you probably shouldn’t.

About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.