American Hustle (2013)
Director: David O. Russell
Cast : Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
Synopsis; A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.
Watch American Hustle Full Movie: David O. Russell’s “American Hustle,” an intentionally overripe comedy about corruption, duplicity, loyalty, and love, is a series of astonishments. Russell, rewriting a script developed by Eric Singer, takes off from the Abscam affair—the bizarre criminal investigation of the nineteen-seventies in which the F.B.I. called on a swindler named Mel Weinberg to help ensnare public officials. (Six congressmen and a senator were among those ultimately convicted.) The bureau’s elaborate sting involved two “Arab sheikhs” (both F.B.I. employees) eager to invest in Atlantic City’s nascent casino industry and willing to bribe officials in order to procure operating licenses. (“Abscam” was short for “Abdul scam.”) Russell has both simplified and juiced a tale that is already close to preposterous; he has created a fantasia told from the point of view of two con artists, a man and a woman (based loosely on Weinberg’s mistress). Not just the crooks but virtually everyone in the movie seems slightly crazed by ambition. The one person who’s ordinary in temperament, an F.B.I. supervisor played by Louis C.K., could be a member of a different species. We seem to have stepped into the magical sphere—Shakespeare rules over it and Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges are denizens—where profound human foolishness becomes a form of grace.
Watch American Hustle Full Movie: Christian Bale, bearded and forty pounds heavier, with a complex and unreliable hairpiece (parts of it come loose at unsuitable moments), is Irving Rosenfeld, who owns a chain of dry cleaners in New York and sells forged and stolen art on the side. Like all successful con men, Irving has a serene understanding of deception: most people, he’s sure, will believe what they want to believe. He’s deeply dishonest but not, in most ways, a terrible man. Irving wants things to work out for people; his half-goodness is part of the expanding joke of the movie. During a winter indoor-pool party at a friend’s house on Long Island, he meets an ambitious young woman, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a former stripper, who is alarmingly intelligent and determined to make something of herself. She and Irving bond over a mutual love of Duke Ellington and begin an affair. Sydney also joins Irving’s scams, posing as a British aristocrat with banking connections; she wears dresses cleaved to the waist and boldly stares everyone down while quaking in her high heels. When the pair are caught by a high-strung F.B.I. agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), they wind up working for the bureau, carrying out Richie’s big-time sting. Racing around New York, Irving occasionally goes home to his luscious nutbrain wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who has a habit of blundering into his arrangements at exactly the wrong time. The movie evokes such classics as “Married to the Mob,” “Goodfellas,” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” but it has a fizziness all its own and a pell-mell but lucid storytelling strategy that is one of the most impressive achievements in recent filmmaking.
Watch American Hustle Full Movie: Like “Goodfellas,” this movie uses voice-over to swing us into the action, offering first Irving’s view of the world, then Sydney’s, then the two in alternation, as the characters expound on their up-from-the-bottom ethos of survival. They are matched in avidity by Richie, who lives at home with his mother and sets his straight hair with curlers so that he can look sexy-Italian. His desire for Sydney is aroused so quickly that he tries to pry her loose from Irving even as he’s arresting her. She flirts with him and maybe falls for him, but, in any case, she’s determined to use him. Currents of love and jealousy electrify the convoluted, many-faceted operation that the three pull off. In Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper’s patented anxiety—the burning blue eyes and the motormouth feverishness—nagged and clogged the early scenes. But here his rapid-fire attack is comically just right. Richie isn’t as bright as he thinks he is; his mind works erratically, and Russell leaves some air around Cooper’s lines, many of which take startlingly odd turns. Sprucing up like John Travolta getting ready for the disco in “Saturday Night Fever” (which came out in the same period in which this movie is set), Cooper wears a medallion on his exposed chest. His night on the disco floor with Amy Adams is the dreamiest of consummations—they’re both great dancers.
Watch American Hustle Full Movie: One of Irving and Sydney’s swindles involves loans that are promised but never paid. It’s the only serious plot mistake that Russell makes—as portrayed, it’s flatly unconvincing—but you pass over it, because the momentum of the story is irresistible. Working with the cinematographer Linus Sandgren, Russell takes the camera smoothly and rapidly through offices, restaurants, and parties, feeding one episode into the next, and linking them with movement or narration, like sustained musical phrases. In a few scenes, a character silently mouths the words of the song playing on the soundtrack, as if propelled by the beat in his head. The movie has a ceaseless flow; the music of greed never stops.
Watch American Hustle Full Movie: Richie summons a New Jersey politician, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner, with a serious pompadour), to the Plaza Hotel and offers him a suitcase full of money to help clear the way for the casinos. Carmine refuses and leaves, but Irving chases him down in front of the hotel, and makes a personal connection with him. A true artist must keep things moving toward the instant of seduction, and Irving and Carmine, partying with their wives, become friends. The suborning of public officials requires drink, music, and long nights in restaurants, and “American Hustle” is rich in jubilant sociability. “Always take the favor over money,” Irving advises Carmine, which is an outrageous thing to say, since he has just successfully bribed him. At another level, though, Irving means it, as he guiltily begins to do favors for the man he has trapped. Carmine wants to get the casinos going so that his constituents can find jobs, and Irving’s attempt to protect him becomes a complicating and moving strain in the movie. “American Hustle” is built around many acts of cynical manipulation, but it is generous, even kindly, in spirit. Corruption and con artistry, in this telling, are mutually dependent, and not always evil. The single truly malevolent figure is a Mafia boss from Miami (played by Robert De Niro), whose sinister jokes make Irving and Richie panic at the thought of what they have got into.
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