American Hustle

December 23, 2013 by  

American Hustle, “This” turns out to be a serio-comic tall tale (bearing the whiff of the shaggy dog) with one toe in the real-life “Abscam” operation in which the FBI used a con artist and a fake sheikh to entrap corrupt public officials in the late 70s and early 80s. The true story is bizarre enough, yet it’s clear from the outset that director David O Russell’s primary touchstones are cinematic, most notably, Scorsese’s Goodfellas as seen through the refractive prism of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, with a smidgen of Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco sprinkled in as seasoning.

In terms of awards fodder (with seven Golden Globe nominations, this is a leading Oscar contender), it also owes a debt to Argo, following its winning formula of handsome stars with outlandishly retro hair arrangements reliving American stories from the late 70s that are too implausible to be entirely made up.

We open in the Plaza hotel, New York, in 1978, where Christian Bale’s dry cleaner cum art forger/loan shark Irving Rosenfeld is seen concocting an ostentatious comb-over involving glue, hairspray and an improbably pubic-looking appliance. The rituals of hair maintenance will play a key role in the ensuing drama; over the next two hours we will get to see most of the principal cast in curlers, notably Bradley Cooper, whose tightly coiled tresses involve a rigid regime of miniature rollers wound like over-cranked watch springs upon his increasingly agitated head. Cooper plays creepy federal agent Richie DiMaso, an ambitiously jumpy live wire who first busts and then enlists Rosenfeld, forcing him into a run-of-the-mill operation that almost accidentally spirals into something involving the city, the mayor and the mob, the latter in the form of (an uncredited) Robert De Niro’s Victor Tellegio, a man so dangerous that he is going bald and doesn’t even care.

The real fireworks, however, come from the women: Amy Adams’s fraudster’s moll, whose fake Anglo-American accent wavers with brilliant precision; and Jennifer Lawrence’s glamorously rattled New Jersey housewife, who divides her time between setting fire to the kitchen and performing alcohol-fuelled renditions of Live and Let Die to the dismay of cheating husband Irving. Having earned a best actress Oscar for her lead role in Russell’s previous film, the wilfully whimsical Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence here lets rip in a terrifically ballsy supporting role; part harpy, part siren, a vision of steely defiance with an undercurrent of cracked exasperation.

But it is Adams who is the centre of the storm as the mercurial Sydney Prosser, a master of reinvention whose alter ego, “Lady Edith”, is no more “unreal” than anyone else. In a world in which everyone is pretending to be someone, only Sydney seems to know who she is, a quality due in large part to the strength of Adams’s performance, which injects an unexpected note of reality into the garishly artificial proceedings.

Report to Team

Please feel free to send if you have any questions regarding this post , you can contact on

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are that of the authors and not necessarily that of U.S.S.POST.


Comments are closed.