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American Hustle

By MATTHEW KORFHAGE
Director David O. Russell’s vision of America has always been Winesburg, Ohio, hopped up on trucker speed: a place of frantic grotesques distorted by their own need. In his new film, American Hustle—loosely based on the Abscam federal bribery scandal of the 1970s—everyone from New Jersey's mayor to federal agents to small-time con artists are so warped by ambition that integrity and even identity become expensive luxury items. The film is a balls-to-the-wall, unbridled love affair with homegrown bullshit and piss-taking. American Bullshit was, in fact, the working title of the film, and in bullshit, it would seem Russell has finally found his true subject matter. From the sincerely insincere, American Hustle builds genuine characters. The film’s establishing shot is brilliant in this regard: a humorously long sequence of Christian Bale’s potbellied con man, Irving Rosenfeld, gluing a toupee to his head. When meticulously permed federal agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) makes a move on Rosenfeld’s girl almost immediately thereafter, it’s an insult. When he musses his rug, it’s an unforgivable violation. It’s a wild pretzel of a plot: Rosenfeld and mistress Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) have been caught by DiMaso in an undercover sting and are forced to run confidence rackets for the feds in order to nab other grifters. Halfway through the film, it’s unclear who’s conning whom, but it’s clear everybody’s conning themselves. This is the high wire that makes American Hustle so exhilarating, with the quick turns of a David Mamet or Howard Hawks fast-talkie. Despite its ’70s high-criminal subject matter, it is far closer to His Girl Friday than to Goodfellas. Really, it’s the sort of flick we’ve rarely seen since the ’40s: a farce with a heart.
 
  • Genres: Crime drama, Docudrama
  • Release Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Brief Violence, Pervasive Language, Some Sexual Content ]
  • Critic's Score: A
  • Starring: Christian Bale [Irving Rosenfeld], Bradley Cooper [Richie DiMaso], Jeremy Renner [Mayor Carmine Polito], Amy Adams [Sydney Prosser], Jennifer Lawrence [Rosalyn Rosenfeld], Louis C.K. [Stoddard Thorsen], Jack Huston [Pete Musane], Michael Peña [Paco Hernandez/Sheik Abdullah], Shea Whigham [Carl Elway], Alessandro Nivola [Anthony Amado], Elisabeth Rohm [Dolly Polito], Paul Herman [Alfonse Simone], Said Taghmaoui [Irv's Sheik Plant], Matthew Russell [Dominic Polito], Thomas Matthews [Francis Polito], Adrian Martinez [Julius], Anthony Zerbe [Sen. Horton Mitchell], Colleen Camp [Brenda]
  • Directed by: David Russell [Director], Eric Singer [Screenwriter], David Russell [Screenwriter], Charles Roven [Producer], Richard Suckle [Producer], Megan Ellison [Producer], Jonathan Gordon [Producer], Matthew Budman [Executive Producer], Bradley Cooper [Executive Producer], Eric Singer [Executive Producer], George Parra [Executive Producer], Linus Sandgren [Cinematographer], Judy Becker [Production Design], Jay Cassidy [Film Editor], Crispin Struthers [Film Editor], Alan Baumgarten [Film Editor], Michael Wilkinson [Costume Designer], Danny Elfman [Original Music], Mary Vernieu [Casting], Lindsay Graham [Casting], Jesse Rosenthal [Art Director], Heather Loeffler [Set Decoration]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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