The Movie Review: “American Hustle”

The eventual end to a con may be to gift the person, but the real goal is to set the stage. In fact, I have an easy time believing that stage magicians and conmen have the same principle. You need to play the audience in your favor, but don’t make them feel like they’re getting talked down on. The more elusive the trick will be, the more planning it’s going to take.

It’s better to have someone as an assistant so that you’re not the only one looking out for yourself. Finally, if the audience is still smiling, then it’s going to take more time for them to start asking questions.

It’s all an illusion. They may be words of no innocence to the magician but it’s a morale booster for the conman. Now, also like the true illusionist, every conman puts a lot of work into their plan with the highest of determination. It’s often more happiness into their work than a lot of people with real jobs. So if the conman is successful at their job, then are they the true livers of the American dream? Maybe, as you’ll all see from the con people in American Hustle.

It’s 1978 and small-time business owner and con artist Irving Rosenfeld (played by Christian Bale) has already made a good reputation for himself. His ego is only built further when he comes across a woman, Sydney Prosser (played by Amy Adams), at a party. She becomes his lover and partner in crime; as posing as a British woman named Edith Greensley who’s able to lure rich investors into Irving’s scams.

The only complication in Irving’s life is his current marriage to the younger, but unstable, Rosalyn (played by Jennifer Lawrence). They fight all the time, but neither wants to divorce.

Their sting is finally stung when undercover FBI agent Richie DiMaso (played by Bradley Cooper) catches them. He offers them a chance for release. All they have to do is help him catch four other con artists. This is mostly so because Richie is attracted to Sydney. Both Irving and Sydney accept and they work with Richie to bring in the feds on the cons. They devise a plan where a sheik will do business with local mayor Carmine Polito (played by Jeremy Renner). A love triangle starts to develop between the three as Rosalyn may have her own plans and other people could be caught alongside.

American Hustle has a lot working in its scheme. All actors hit it out of the park. No matter what, I’m confident that Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner are all worthy of big acting awards. I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of theater companies will want a stage version of American Hustle made, just using those five characters. It’s good that they make up the majority of the film because there is a lot of interaction going on with many side characters.

There are a lot of character arcs going on. It’s a little long, so if you find yourself enjoying this, be prepared for more then one viewing to understand the full scenario. They could have probably trimmed the party scenes. Are they bad? No. They help to elevate the lowbrow environment that the characters are currently in. It takes full advantage of the time period with a really good design. I just felt like that after an hour of this, they could have put full focus on where it was.

I’ll give this four and a half comb-over hairstyles out of five. One thing that American Hustle also has is a great soundtrack. It’s really in tune with the 70s period without using anything too obvious. If you’re looking for a good story about con artists, then I think this will steal your heart.

Robert T. Nickerson is a film critic. His work can be seen at mastermindfilmproductions.com.

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