Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence
Trust in the world of being a grifter can never be guaranteed from a friend or foe. If someone has something to gain from an exchange, then one must protect themselves from being exploited. Those who follow those guidelines survive and those who get too high on themselves suffer the worst as displayed in this quick and snappy film that contains a magnificent cast and uses each of them exceptionally well.
After being caught in a loan scam, Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) must work to avoid jail time with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). To gain immunity for their pending charges they must use their skills to expose the dirty side of politics and as the title suggests, hustle their way from the abundance of characters and personalities that soon get involved.
Before anything else about this film is mentioned, we need to talk about Amy Adams. Oh my goodness, she definitely brought it in this film. She currently holds the position of my favorite contemporary actor in cinema and she brilliantly displays why in American Hustle. She can pass off her charm and grace but then turn on the sex appeal in an instant. The way she navigates this character and glides around each of the other actors shows her acting prowess and she took up the spotlight in every single scene that included her. This performance may be one of her more showy ones and one that she would typically not take on, but it demonstrates the incredible range she possesses and that she can excel with any material she receives.
Beside her are incredible talents like Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and many others. Each of them made indelible marks in the story and left an impact even with some having less screen time than others. Chrisitan Bale as Irving comes closest to being a protagonist to the story, as it shows how he changes throughout the narrative and sees the real impact his actions have on others. Irving feels like he has the most at stake with trying to navigate his relationship with Sydney along with his wife and kid at home. Even if he has his missteps, it’s quite difficult to root against him considering much of the other characters are simply terrible people.
A nice surprise I didn’t see coming was the performance by Robert De Niro as Meyer Lansky’s right-hand man. With his recent run of being on comedies and other lighter fare, it would be easy to forget the mobster characters that have made him famous. However, he brought that ferocity right back with this performance in the film to remind us that he can turn on that level whenever he feels like it. His performance works well with the story and serves as a sobering reminder that consequences exist in this game of lies and deceit. Consequences that may be lost in other twisty films, but this reminder felt like a gut-punch because one small screw-up could lead to someone being found in the river.
As with many twisty films, American Hustle kept me on my toes wondering who would deceive who in order to be on top by the end. The story comes together really well, but the film’s success comes from its actors and the pure madness they bring to their characters. Each of them truly take control of their characters and become them throughout the story and it made me forget their star power. It takes a special talent to achieve that and the actors brought together for this film demonstrate that in the way they play off each other and really become a nuisance to the audience.
American Hustle will always be a fun film to rewatch and experience the betrayals and the shining of government corruption when it comes to money and wealth. The film pulls you in at times with sincerity only to remind you exactly what type of people we’re dealing with here. It moves quickly and has a bouncing soundtrack that takes you back to a time where people believe rocking those hairstyles was actually a good idea. Come for the actors and stay for a good time.