American Hustle (2013): Everyone Hustles to Survive

Posted: January 17, 2014 in Crime, Drama

MV5BNjkxMTc0MDc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUyNTI1MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Irving Rosenfeld is one of the best hustlers around. Able to swindle money from anyone looking for a quick buck, he had successfully been able to pull his money together to create his own personal empire. Attracted to his lifestyle, Sydney Prosser quickly attached herself to his life, even after discovering that he was actually married with a family. Irving is approached by FBI agent Richie DiMaso, after discovering his abilities, in an effort to bring down a corrupt up-and-coming politician from New Jersey. Known to be dealing in with the mob to fund a casino and city revitalization project, Irving, Sydney, and Richie work every angle to trap the mayor before he can succeed with his plot.

Starring: Christian Bale (Irving Rosenfeld), Bradley Cooper (Richie DiMaso), Amy Adams (Sydney Prosser), Jeremy Renner (Mayor Carmine Polito), Jennifer Lawrence (Rosalyn Rosenfeld), Louis CK (Stoddard Thorsen), Jack Huston (Pete Musane), Michael Pena (Paco Hernandez), Alessandro Nivola (Anthony Amado), Robert De Niro (Victor Tellegio)

Centering around the exploits of Bale and his character’s slick thinking, Bale ‘s charm on-screen was a paradox: alluring and revolting, in a positive way. The best part of his character was how he evolved as they progressed through the big hustle. Cooper’s aggressiveness was quite entertaining, especially when put alongside Louis CK. Adams gave quite a performance as a seductress and con-artist, while also displaying the challenges of being caught between two men. Lawrence, on the other hand, was just comical with her careless and aggressive tendencies toward Bale’s character. Renner played a bit more of a likable character than the rest of the cast while in contrast with the dealings he portrayed throughout the story. De Niro ended up being a nice surprise guest to the film but mostly played to his previous success as a mobster.

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David O. Russell has seen some real success in the past few years with hits like Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. Reconnecting with his friends, Bale, Adams, Cooper, and Lawrence, he has developed quite the hit loosely based around a real scandal during the 70s. Irving’s success had been all about how he had been able to read people and take advantage of them, which only seemed to get enhanced when he added Sydney. He would have never seen himself helping out the Feds if he had not been caught by Richie DiMaso. The mayor seemed to actually have good intention but felt compelled to go through dirty channels to achieve his plans. As the big hustle was taking root, Irving realized that he was caught in a trap. Failure with the Feds meant he would be liable for the dirt they had on him. Failure also meant the end of his marriage (though he was not so troubled by that) but also the end of his relationship with Sydney. And as he got deeper into the con, he saw the side of Carmine that created conflict with the possibility of ruining the positive intention of his dreams.

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The real charm of this film was in the acting and the comedic elements sprinkled throughout the story. It all started with the ridiculously intricate comb-over job that Irving did with his hair, but it quickly changed to the exaggerated emotions of each of the players in the hustle. Rosalyn was a mess from the beginning, failing to understand and follow the simplest of instructions, typically leading to endangering herself with items like metal in the microwave. While there were moments when Richie’s intensity was more dramatic, his aggressive tendencies with his supervisor led to some challenging conflicts he was left to explain. The character building and relationship development was really at the core of what made this film a success.

It is quite possible that Russell will be recognized for his achievements with this film. The acting is top-notch, the story is engaging, and the development of the film flows smoothly. Definitely a big hit.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. Never bores or is uninteresting, even at its messiest moments.

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