Article Published: Jan. 10, 2014 | Modified: Jan. 10, 2014
Watching a great director cut loose makes for a fun time
at the movies.
When that director is David O. Russell, expect an even bigger
Spectacularly acted, inventively filmed and impeccably written, “American
Hustle” is easily one of the best movies of 2013.
Like an infectiously catchy tune
— and “Hustle” features plenty — it’s Russell’s (“Silver Linings Playbook”) pervasive giddiness that
captures his audience.
Is it a full-fledged comedy? Not quite. Is it a gripping
drama? Not necessarily. “American Hustle” masterfully combines winning elements of American cinema
for a film that qualifies as pure entertainment.
Once again, Christian Bale (“The
Fighter”) owns his role, this time as brilliant (but small-time) con artist Irving Rosenfeld, who,
with the help of his lover and partner in crime, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams, “The Muppets”), hustles
for an easy living in 1970s New Jersey.
Through fake investments and forged
artwork, the duo makes a successful go of it, although most nights find Irving returning home to his
wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence, “The Hunger Games”), and her son, who he’s adopted as his
Sydney has grown to accept this, although matters grow considerably
more complicated when she’s busted by an ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, “The
Place Beyond the Pines”), who’s also putting the screws to Irving.
clean slate if they cooperate, DiMaso coerces Irving and Sydney into aiding his efforts to expose
political corruption in New Jersey. Their target, however, is the altruistic mayor of Atlantic City,
Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner, “The Town”), a true friend of the people, whose few shady dealings
have only been for the benefit of his community.
As Irving and Carmine become fast
friends, the former feels conflicted about his goal, but even more so about DiMaso’s bullheaded and
sloppy attempts to catch even bigger fish — including mobster Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro,
“Goodfellas,” in a brilliant, uncredited cameo).
It’s their biggest hustle yet,
but it’ll come at a cost.
Based loosely on the FBI’s ABSCAM campaign, in which the
bureau created a fictitious Middle Eastern sheik to wheel and deal with public officials suspected
of corruption, “American Hustle” opens with the disclaimer that “Some of this actually
These five words set the tone for the riotously entertaining story to
follow, and Russell gleefully milks them for all they’re worth. Dazzling viewers with style and
flashiness indicative of the period, Russell invites us to sit back and enjoy the
And we’re in good company. The film’s cast — one of the most effective
and talented ensembles in recent history — is obviously having fun, sinking its collective teeth
into a group of oddball characters that, despite their many personal flaws, somehow manage to become
All are hustling for something or another, be it success, respect, love
or truth, but Russell makes it effectively clear — and not just through the film’s tagline — that
everyone hustles to survive.
Fortunately, surviving has never been so much
“American Hustle,” rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and
brief violence, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 14, or visit