American Hustle

David O. Russell has done it again. The director of Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and The Fighter (2010) has created another wildly outlandish and suspenseful blend of drama and comedy with brilliantly moving ensemble performances.

Set in 1978 and loosely based on the Abscam scandal, American Hustle tells the story of a small time con-man, Irving Rosenfeld, and his female partner, Sydney Prosser, caught between an overzealous FBI agent looking to make a name for himself, and the mob.

If you enjoyed the disco era style, fashion and music recreated lovingly for the star studded porn industry film Boogie Nights (1997), you will love this exuberant period spectacle of 1970s underworld figures addicted to the art of the con.

A sleazy con-artist (Christian Bale) uses his confident manner and charisma, despite a convoluted comb-over, to scam greedy people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by implying that he can give them huge returns or loans on their investment.  

David O. Russell is a big admirer of Tarantino and it shows in this movie with many of his signature editing and camera techniques mixed with suspenseful storytelling and hit songs, but without the blood and violence that Tarantino is so fond of.

Using his dry cleaning business as a front, Irving has succeeded so far in staying under the radar for the most part, by keeping things low key, until he meets a talented stripper with an English accent, Sydney (Amy Adams), who he falls in love with, and together they are able to take their con business to new lucrative levels.

With its colorful procession of 70s style seedy people living desperate decadent lives of crime and with plenty of musical interludes that add to the overall funky disco dance mood, this movie is as much fun as a Bootsy Collins concert.

Eventually the couple’s success attracts the attention of undercover FBI agents with equally ambitious goals of catching corrupt politicians. The head of this team, Richie, decides to press Irving’s skills into service to help catch even bigger fish in exchange for a reduced sentence. 

At first, we the audience are completely unsympathetic and even repulsed by Irving’s unscrupulous pot-bellied character, but as his situation gets more complicated and he becomes entangled with even more ambitious and ruthless characters, we start to appreciate some of his better qualities and by the end we find ourselves actually rooting for him.

The story is told through the disparate characters and focuses intimately on these passionate individuals and their changing relationships as they reinvent themselves. When they all come together in a tense filled gathering of volatile egos, the film has us completely enthralled, even as we are totally bluffed by them.

I was kept thoroughly engaged throughout this operatic film as more characters were thrown into the elaborate sting resulting in unpredictable dizzying high-jinx and an emotional and entertaining ride reminiscent of The Sting (1973). 

JP

10 comments:

jacquie said...

I can't wait to see this. Don't know anyone who has seen it yet so this review really helped. Well done!

Jason Butler said...

Looks like it will be a good movie.

Susan Cooper said...

I have heard very good things about this film, spot on with what your review says. It is on my "go see" list over the holidays. Happy Holidays, John.

JP said...

Thanks to everyone for your support throughout the year and I hope you enjoyed my film reviews.

Happy Holidays and a happy New Year to all you movie lovers.

Greg Narayan said...

Hey Mr John,

Haven't seen it quite yet but this has convinced me to try it. I didn't see Silver Linings Playbook either...too much blogging I guess.

What's your take on Anchorman 2?? Family time movie at that this afternoon.

Cya later, happy holidays!!

Greg

Greg Narayan said...

Hey Mr John,

Haven't seen it quite yet but this has convinced me to try it. I didn't see Silver Linings Playbook either...too much blogging I guess.

What's your take on Anchorman 2?? Family time movie at that this afternoon.

Cya later, happy holidays!!

Greg

Greg Narayan said...

Hey Mr John,

Haven't seen it quite yet but this has convinced me to try it. I didn't see Silver Linings Playbook either...too much blogging I guess.

What's your take on Anchorman 2?? Family time movie at that this afternoon.

Cya later, happy holidays!!

Greg

ps totally understand the captcha thing, but it's taken me 4 tries now to decipher. might be more of a person blocker than robot blocker ;)

BroHawk92 said...

This is one of the movies that I was planning on seeing in very soon! It looked very interesting and your review of the film confirmed my decision to ant to see it!

Thank you for sharing!!

Shiran said...

Looks like a hoot. Looking forward to seeing this. David O' Russell is known for his off-beat quirky movies..

thierry's travels blog said...

Loved the movie, loved the music and loved your review of it, John. Well done!! Thanks