American Hustle starts off with a message saying “some of this is actually true”, perhaps this is knowing nod to the audience who are aware that many films that state that “the following events are based on a true story” basically mean “we have taken the bare basics of the truth and decided to make up some shit as well”. Anywho, moving on, American Hustle is loosely based on the ABSCAM investigation in which a number of notable politicians are embodied in a corruption scandal.
American Hustle follows Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) who meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and falls in love with her. The pair embarks on a series of cons, in which they ask for $5000 for a return of $30,000, taking the money of those who were in desperate need of the financial help to drag themselves out of debt (slightly like a Bonnie and Clyde but con artists). The two, however, are caught when FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) poses as a customer also in desperate need for cash.
The pair faces a lengthy jail sentence, but are offered a deal in which they must assist the FBI in capturing a number of prominent politicians, including Jeremy Renner’s Carmine Polito (New Jersey’s highly effective and popular mayor), into accepting a series of bribes from Mafia related organizations. The reward for assisting the operation is an avoided jail sentence, and with an adopted son jail is something Rosenfield could not face. However, there are a number of ways this operation could blow up spectacularly in their faces.
Moving on from Silver Linings Playbook director David O Russell looks set to secure his third Best Picture Oscar nomination in a row with his film American Hustle as it is the film that is dominating the nominations list of various ceremonies during the build up to the big event (along with 12 Years a Slave). Almost everyone watching American Hustle will understand why the film has received so many accolades at a number of award ceremonies. Perhaps the most notable and attractive aspect of American Hustle is the ensemble cast consisting of Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Copper, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams.
Unsurprisingly the cast are up for a number of awards as each of the performers are great in their respective role. Christian Bale, sporting a ridiculous comb over, is superb affecting a New Jersey accent, as is Bradley Cooper as the ambitious Richie DiMaso, but it is Amy Adams who is most appealing as the sexy and seductive Sydney Prosser. Adams flicks from her standard American accent to an English accent (a standard English accent as viewed from America) with considerable ease just like a multilingual person flicking faultlessly from language to language. Prosser appeals to the men of the film and the camera relishes the appeals that Sydney Prosser has that so greatly entices the male characters. There is a sense of a femme fatale about her as many men find her charms and their desire for her irresistible. Jennifer Lawrence (a drunken rendition of Live and Let Die is a highlight) is also magnificent.
Directed with style and panache by David O’Russell American Hustle evokes the works of Martin Scorsese, such as Casino and Goodfellas, as the film effortlessly oozes top class filmmaking with its exceptional period detail, excellent cinematography and injections of humour (a highlight is a scene that is reminiscent to something from Inglorious Bastards and Rosalyn causing a microwave to catch fire). It’s not all perfect however as American Hustle is a little slow to actually get going as the film tells the back story of how Sydney and Irving came to meet before performing a number of scams that took the money from those who are literally begging for the financial assistance. The film picks up the pace once Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso arrives on the screen, but this begins a love triangle between Sydney, Irving and Richie which, whilst being integral to the plot, could have been better. Much more interesting is the love triangle between Rosalyn Rosenfeild, Sydney and Irving.
Russell’s work on American Hustle is superb, but much is owned to the superb ensemble cast who all deliver near faultless performances.