American Hustle – review

Gloriously resplendent with period details, David O. Russell’s American Hustle positively revels in excess. Reuniting the director with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) along with Amy Adams and Christian Bale (The Fighter), American Hustle depicts the real life so-called ‘Abscam’, an FBI operation of the late 1970s and early ‘80s which saw the FBI employ a former con artist in order to implicate and target a number of corrupt politicians.

Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, the aforementioned con artist, who along with his mistress Sydney Prosser (Adams) carries out a number of fairly small time operations until they are caught by the arrogant and ambitious FBI agent Richard DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).  Determined to make a name for himself despite the misgivings of his seniors, he agrees to a reprieve for the pair on the condition that they help him with four additional arrests.DiMaso, overconfident, takes it upon himself to begin targeting corrupt politicians using the expertise of Irving and Sydney.

Russell’s almost laconic direction is perfectly pitched, allowing his flawless cast to take control. Bale and Adams are, as ever, utterly immersed in their roles: both Irving and Sydney are flawed human beings, fully fleshed out characters who, despite their illegalities, struggle at times with the moral implications of their decisions. Cooper’s best work has undoubtedly been with Russell: DiMaso’s barely concealed mania threatening to infiltrate at all times makes for compulsive viewing. Amidst this truly impressive cast however it is Lawrence who really stands out: Lawrence plays Rosalyn, Irving’s young wife, whose hyperactive frenzied episodes threaten to derail Irving’s carefully constructed fantasy. Lawrence never fails to impress: Rosalyn, in the hands of a lesser skilled performer, could have strayed into farce, instead Lawrence imbues her with true tragedy.

American Hustle, despite its marketing, is in actuality a character study, an entirely immersive work that further signals how perfectly matched Russell can be with a cast of such calibre.  For me, Silver Linings Playbook, whilst a great work, was not necessarily worthy of the awards accolades it received. American Hustle is a far superior, more complex work featuring career best performances from the likes of Lawrence and Cooper.

4/5

Gloriously resplendent with period details, David O. Russell’s American Hustle positively revels in excess. Reuniting the director with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) along with Amy Adams and Christian Bale (The Fighter), American Hustle depicts the real life so-called ‘Abscam’, an FBI operation of the late 1970s and early ‘80s which saw the FBI employ a former con artist in order to implicate and target a number of corrupt politicians.

Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, the aforementioned con artist, who along with his mistress Sydney Prosser (Adams) carries out a number of fairly small time operations until they are caught by the arrogant and ambitious FBI agent Richard DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).  Determined to make a name for himself despite the misgivings of his seniors, he agrees to a reprieve for the pair on the condition that they help him with four additional arrests.DiMaso, overconfident, takes it upon himself to begin targeting corrupt politicians using the expertise of Irving and Sydney.

Russell’s almost laconic direction is perfectly pitched, allowing his flawless cast to take control. Bale and Adams are, as ever, utterly immersed in their roles: both Irving and Sydney are flawed human beings, fully fleshed out characters who, despite their illegalities, struggle at times with the moral implications of their decisions. Cooper’s best work has undoubtedly been with Russell: DiMaso’s barely concealed mania threatening to infiltrate at all times makes for compulsive viewing. Amidst this truly impressive cast however it is Lawrence who really stands out: Lawrence plays Rosalyn, Irving’s young wife, whose hyperactive frenzied episodes threaten to derail Irving’s carefully constructed fantasy. Lawrence never fails to impress: Rosalyn, in the hands of a lesser skilled performer, could have strayed into farce, instead Lawrence imbues her with true tragedy.

American Hustle, despite its marketing, is in actuality a character study, an entirely immersive work that further signals how perfectly matched Russell can be with a cast of such calibre.  For me, Silver Linings Playbook, whilst a great work, was not necessarily worthy of the awards accolades it received. American Hustle is a far superior, more complex work featuring career best performances from the likes of Lawrence and Cooper.

4/5

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