American Hustle Reviews
American Hustle moves fast, talks loud and is explosively entertaining. This is one of David Russell's most ambitious films to date. This could not have been done without his powerhouse team consisting of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner. Russell has been known for his fast-moving camera shots and his in-depth character development. These two aspects are used frequently throughout American Hustle.
The plot is loosely based on the Abscam, from the late 1970s, where the FBI set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians. This operation resulted in the convictions of a U.S. senator and six congressmen. First-timer Eric Warren Singer wrote the script and originally titled it, American Bullshit. This screenplay listed at No. 8 on the 2010 Black List of unproduced screenplays. Russell picked up the script and rewrote the entire screenplay. Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con artist who likes playing on the edge and living life to its fullest by gaining others' wealth. Bale, who delivers a stellar performance and even gained 40 pounds for this role, did his own hilarious comb-over and ended up herniating two discs in his back from slouching his posture. Adams, who plays Rosenfeld's mistress, Sydney Prosser, is dynamite and gets out of her comfort zone by taking on a much more daring role.
In the past, Adams has been nominated for four Supporting-Oscars in Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter and The Master. Adams finally earns her spotlight here as a lead actor in a film. The wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Cooper) does not take no for an answer and will do anything to bring down corrupt politicians. Cooper's performance, as DiMaso, is brilliant but his character can be disturbing in regards to his treatment toward women. Lawrence, who plays Rosenfeld's wife, Rosalyn, is a knockout and gives a comedic performance that adds to this film. Her interpretation of Live and let Die is outstanding. Personally, this is the best and funniest scene in the movie. Renner, who plays Mayor Carmine Polito, does a grand job of taking on a Russell film for the first time.
Apart from the cast, the soundtrack is killer. The elaborate costumes, hair and makeup also add more depth to the film. To no surprise, American Hustle has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including: Best Actor - in a Leading Role (Bale); Best Actress - in a Leading Role (Adams); Best Actor - in a Supporting Role (Cooper); Best Actress - in a Supporting Role (Lawrence), and Best Achievement in Directing (Russell). What Russell does best is show the raw emotion of these characters who are trying to reinvent themselves. Russell really cares for these characters and gives them the right amount of screen time to share their story. A common theme in Russell's movies is embracing the darkness and showing our true human nature. That is why American Hustle ranks as one of 2013's best films. I had a blast seeing it on the big screen.
GREG: (Greg Smith, Founder of Agile Writers of Richmond, VA) Well get out your polyester suit and wide lapels because we re heading back to the 1970 s and the ABSCAM debacle.
SCOTT: The film begins with the pithy words, Some of these events may have happened . We meet Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a small time con-artist who dabbles in selling fraudulent loans and fraudulent paintings. He partners up with the beautiful Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), whose British aristocratic accent helps the crime business boom. But trouble is brewing. One problem is Irving s loose-cannon-of-a-wife Rosylin (Jennifer Lawrence), who is raising Irving s young son.
GREG: Enter ambitious young FBI agent Richie DeMaso (Bradley Cooper). He catches Sydney in the act of taking a bribe and negotiates a deal with Irving: Help him catch 4 perpetrators of white collar crime and they can go free. Irving realizes the jig is up and agrees to Richie s terms. Richie then sets his sites on the mayor of Atlantic City, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and realizes he s just nipped the tip of the political iceberg.
SCOTT: Greg, American Hustle is a fascinating story about unsavory people and how they unravel. There is so much self-destructive behavior on display in the movie that I don t even know where to begin, except to say that the movie shows in vivid detail all the many reasons behind the rise and fall of heroes and villains. There is greed, of course, but along with greed there is pride, arrogance, dishonesty, and an insatiable hunger for power and control. The opening scene is very telling. Irving is a man approaching middle age and he is going bald. We see him putting together the most elaborate comb-over in the history of comb-overs. There is ruse and deception throughout the movie, and we see how very little it takes to reveal all the lies for what they are cheap ways to avoid reality and truth, and a means of getting what one wants despite being so ill-deserving.
GREG: Nearly everyone in this movie is out to get one over on someone. Irving and Sydney are trying to get one over on their marks. Richie is trying to get one over on Irving, Sydney, and Mayor Polito. He is out to make a name for himself in the FBI and rise up the ranks. Polito is actually a pretty good guy, trying to reinvigorate Atlantic City. He gets caught up in his own zeal and crosses the line from honest politician to fingers-in-the-wrong-pie politician. Since there are no good guys in this film, it s hard to say who the heroes are. Clearly the lead characters are Richie, Irving, Sydney and the mayor. Each has a strong goal. Irving and Sydney want to get out of their predicament. Richie wants a big bust - the bigger the better. The mayor wants to improve New Jersey for political points. But no one seems to have a higher purpose than their own personal gain.
SCOTT: I d say Irving is the main hero of the story, as we watch all his plans and schemes unravel time and again. Yet Irving is nothing if not a resourceful and adaptive criminal whose street smarts and coolness under pressure serve him well during the many weird jams he finds himself in. Does Irving grow as a character? This issue is debatable but an argument can be made that Irving s close brushes with disaster do eventually humble him and motivate him to change. A running gag throughout the movie is a long joke about ice-fishing, told by Richie s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.). Thorsen never gets the chance to finish the joke because Richie keeps interrupting the joke to interject his own ending and his own interpretation of the meaning of the joke. As befitting a man who always seems a step behind everyone else in the movie, Richie s insistent interpretations to the joke are never correct, and in the end he pays for his arrogance. This is a major theme of American Hustle -- arrogance comes with a big fat price.
GREG: Good analysis, Scott. But I fear there were scant few likable characters in this film. I m not a fan of the 70s. It was a time of low culture and high egos. And that is evident on the screen. The fashion and me-first sensibilities are all there. Director / Writer David O. Russell captured the essence of the 70s well. American Hustle is a character-rich examination of the greed and avarice of 1970s politics and organized crime. It reminds me in some ways of a modern The Sting. Were it not for the fact that it was based on the ABSCAM crackdown much of it would seem impossible. What was shocking was the paltry sums of money that people in high places took to look the other way or break the law. I give American Hustle 4 out of 5 Reels. I had trouble identifying with or otherwise rooting for any of the characters in this film and can only give 3 out of 5 Heroes. Movie: Hero:
SCOTT: Once again it pains me to agree with your ratings, Greg. American Hustle is a fun yet disturbing look at a blend of American greed, misplaced ambition, and political chicanery. I give great kudos to all the actors in this ensemble, especially the two main female characters Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, both of whom it can be argued steal the show. The deceptive nature of their beauty pretty much sums up what this film is about. Four out of 5 Reels is a worthy rating for this movie. And I agree that the hero story is a bit cloudy and convoluted, although I do give Irving credit for appearing to discover his heart and soul. Three out of 5 Heroes sound just about right. Movie: Hero:
When we see others work us as much as we can't shake them off but fall for their schrade. When we see right through people when that's our work to uncover fraud. When we have plenty of connections and contacts that make sure we see we get what we want. When what we see we want to see more of when we can see a bigger bust. When we originality last when we see the everything that makes some things art in another to see we can easily be frauded. When we see a place of a collection of great things we wished to see, we know it's all good and real that we naturally see things are real, as we left them. When what we see has everything we need to see when we model somethings like a piece of work of art. When see some places only run smoothly when they have intricate people to trust handling the dirty work. When we see everything is ours for the taking, when we see past people's operations to break through.
When we see we have the right people whom font have to be anything but themselves for others to not see right through us. When we see whom we are dealing with but others dont we naturally have the upper hand. When we see that we all live double lives when reality is much more depressing and boring when what we see out there is more lavish. When we see we rather be with some people whom make us feel so alive that we escape our real life. When we see we have an opportunity to make it big to can't let anything hold us back when it feels right and we are done hiding. When others see what we want when it's a life crisis we see through that we naturally follow along. When we see we are getting closer and deeper to be exposed to things we don't normally see thst we like the sight of seeing we get hooked. When we can't help but see through all the glitz, glamour, flash when we are on guard, watched to see right through people's schrades. When we need to recruit additional people to the feeling if such arrangements engagements feel real when we need to keep with appearances to make everything look real. When we need to see everything run smoothly to see we cover everything we dont see coming to make others see we are real.
When we don't see whom we are dealing with when we covered all records of our identity to not be seen. When what makes unseen and unreal when we know where others would look to reveal our identity. When we see we can't keep going on being fake when we are starting to lose sight of what we are scamming when are marks are hitting everywhere that we can't control anymore. When we see that others like seeing a certain way to pull strings where only a few people can see and do to make real.
When we just need to see that we reveal all what makes us keep seeing life so unhappy and down to see to it we put those higher up in bars. When we never thought we could see ourselves stoop this low to see to it others get what they deserve, to not see they are protecting you from not seeing and working around what you do to keep what they are ultimately see as a hustle. When we will never see it our way with some people when they constantly work us to make us see what we could see whether it's real or not. When somethings don't matter when we only want to be with our family, but others are starting to see differently. When everyone is played and they don't see it to know we must see some plans through which effects us and everybody involved to risk losing it all in the end if we fail.
When somethings we don't see failing when we always had the upper hand, see right through everyone's schrades, and everyone fell into place where you could see them do no harm to you. When others don't see somethings coming to only get somethings they never sought coming. When we see more clearly, when we font need to see somethings anymore when we don't want to and others we wish to see begin our life with. When somethings we see we did it for others and we we just thought they like seeing it thst way when it's all a big lie. When it's better to see things with those we share more in common and see our life with in the end. When we are good at what we fo when we see somethings coming, plan ahead and make others see we are good on our word, connection and make sure they are not easily seen thst easy. When we see life was different back then harder to see and trace and everything we see is either one or double sided when everything is done on a hardcopy we don't see somethings coming straight down the wire.