Film Review: Great Performances Drive Entertaining ‘American Hustle’

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

As career con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) introduces newly-undercover FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to his world of criminal enterprise, he shows him a Rembrandt painting in a museum, revealing that it’s a fake. Millions of people have seen and admired it, not realizing that it’s not the original. Does it matter if they get the same artistic enjoyment out of it? David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” is about that kind of superficial subterfuge, both in the fascinating story it tells and even in its filmmaking, as Russell clearly cribs from Martin Scorsese films like “GoodFellas” and “Casino” like a forger copying a Rembrandt. It is a wildly entertaining piece of work that features one of the best ensembles of the year. A crime film with very little violence, Russell’s drama is a character-based movie that falls just short of the masterpieces it mimics but most audiences won’t be able to tell the difference.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

In many ways, “American Hustle” is the kind of movie con game that works largely through sheer cinematic force. In the first act, we’re introduced to our three major players and all are given a chance to narrate and provide back story. This is not a piece with a simple protagonist. It is a patchwork of cons, crime, sex, and greed. It was originally called “American Bullshit” and I almost wished it had maintained that title since almost all of its characters are so completely full of it.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “American Hustle” in our reviews section.

We first meet Irving, a con man who started off as a kid breaking windows in his small town to provide business for his glass repairman father. Later in life, he’s still managing a series of dry cleaners but that’s just a front for his real game, the art of the con. When he meets the gorgeous Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), he worries that she’ll pull away from his illegal underpinnings but she actually ups his game. She brings in leads looking for business loans, Irving promises them a big return on their initial investments, and they pay the $5k fee, which they will never see again. And then they’re busted.

FBI agent Richie DiMaso brings in the pair and forces them undercover to help bust people of power who may be abusing it. Not only is DiMaso obsessed with bringing in a headline-grabbing case but he becomes infatuated with Sydney and the life they lead in this world of undercover hustling. The plan is to bust Atlantic City Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and other local politicians when they accept bribes to help the new expansion of the gambling empire in their city. It doesn’t matter that Polito is an innocent man just trying to make a financial difference in his impoverished community. DiMaso is going to take him down. Which one is the hustler? The politician caught in a scam or the FBI agent who forces him into it?

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “American Hustle” review.

“American Hustle” stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pena, Shea Wigham, Alessandro Nivola, and Elisabeth Rohm. It was written by David O. Russell & Eric Singer and directed by Russell. It will open on December 20, 2013 and is rated R.

American Hustle
American Hustle
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

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