Daily archives "February 2, 2014"

American Hustle: *****

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Run Time: 138mins
Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: In 1978 two con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams) cut a deal with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) to help him catch other offenders in return clemency. However, Irving’s loose-cannon wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) threatens to derail the plan.

 

The movie is loosely based upon an FBI operation called Abscam. In 1978, where they recruited a convicted con artist, Melvin Weinberg assist them in their pursuit of two stolen paintings. Through continued collaboration with the art and insurance fraud expert, the organization’s operation evolved into an investigation of political corruption. To pull off the operation, Weinberg created a fake company, “Abdul Enterprises,” funded by two wealthy Arab sheiks. The term “Arab scam” became “Abscam.”

 

David O’Russell has decided to rename the characters in this true life event. So Melvin Weinberg becomes Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld. Similar in tone to Goodfellas and Wag The Dog. Rosenfeld narrates the crazy story with a resentful and self obsessed point of view.

In fact all the characters in this story appear to be obsessed with themselves some way or another. DiMaso (Cooper) only worries about his career, Rosalyn (Lawrence) worries about her lifestyle, Sydney worries about being herself and Carmine worries about his image. Only DiMaso’s boss (the fantastic Louis CK) appears to be more grounded and less worried himself.

 

The film is clearly influenced by the works of Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson especially by Goodfellas and Boogie Nights with the sweeping camerawork and funky soundtracks.

 

The performances are spectacular with Bale, Cooper and Adams all playing off each other with exquisite comic timing. In particular Lawrence cements her current can-do-no-wrong status in an extraordinary scene, just shows she is no passing fancy and is hilarious in a comical scene, which uses McCartney’s classic Live and Let Die to great effect.

 

The pace is slow to start, however given time is a wonderful enthralling piece of filmmaking at it’s best. After the disastrous I Heart Huckabees, O’Russell has regained his status as one of the best independent directors of his generation.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan