Posted by: ckckred | January 6, 2014

American Hustle


The con game may be the subject of David O. Russell’s American Hustle, but the real star of the movie is the 1970s.  The 70s was the decade that was the peak for American filmmaking and changed the style and production of cinema.  While the era may be long gone, directors like Paul Thomas Anderson and Richard Linklater have preserved and idolized the 70s through pictures such as Boogie Nights and Dazed and Confused, which reveal the exuberance of youth during that time.  Like those two pictures, American Hustle captures not only the style and thrill of the 70s, but also the spirit, making it wildly entertaining and an attentive look at the decade.

Opening up with a title indicating that the movie is somewhat based on true events, American Hustle centers around Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who besides running a group of laundromats and forging art is a con man.  He acts as a banker, promising big loans to grifters and gamblers to only swindle them of $5,000.  Rosenfeld deeply cares for adoptive son Danny but has to constantly deal with his overbearing wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who refuses to divorce him.  But soon Irving is joined by Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a woman who he first meets at a dinner party, in his con business.  She poses as a British aristocrat and together they steal from multiple investors and spread Irving’s operation.  Eventually though FBI Agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the center of crime and offers them  freedom only if they help him out on an operation that involves the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, crooked members of the Senate and Congress, and the mob.

With its use of voiceovers and rapid cutting, American Hustle will no doubt ring comparisons to the direction of Martin Scorsese, but I found it more akin to The Sting, which also manages to take frequent turns and twists in plot.  David O. Russell pays homage to the 1973 classic, but makes his movie have its own since of originality.  He focuses in on the strained love triangle between Irving, Sydney, and Richie as well as the Rosenfelds’ failing marriage.  As his past work has shown, Russell excels at displaying the anxiety and angst of human characters, often with a bizarre comic edge, and he makes the ensemble of American Hustle eccentric but believable.  Bale is in excellent form as Irving and Adams, an always reliable actress, is phenomenal as a sultry temptress.  Cooper also does a strong job and further proves himself to be a serious actor and one of the strongest leading men in Hollywood and Lawrence continues to evidence her comic brilliance.  It helps that Russell has enlisted the best comedian working today, Louis C. K., for a supporting role as well as an always welcome though short appearance by Robert De Niro.

Like Russell’s last picture, Silver Linings PlaybookAmerican Hustle is by no means a flawless movie and at times feels a bit unfocused and drags at certain sections.  However, a rousing conclusion and some stirring performances more than redeem the bumps and this is one of the juiciest pleasures cinema has brought in 2013.


  1. Caught this last night and really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel totally gripped by the story but the performances were fantastic all round. Nice review mate.

    • Thanks! I agree that the story has its bumps and takes a while to move along, but it’s a fine film nonetheless.

  2. Nice review, although I was slightly disappointed over all. I wanted it to be the new Goodfellas, Casino or Boogie Nights but sadly it wasn’t to be. Much to enjoy though.

    • Thanks! I agree it isn’t in the same league as GoodFellas or Boogie Nights, but there’s a lot to like.

      • Agreed! The performances were great, the costumes and music etc and two thirds of the film!

  3. Agreed. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is good. And always entertaining/funny.

    Good review!

    • Thanks! Yeah, there are some flaws but it’s an enjoyable picture.

  4. Lots of praise being thrown its way. Solid review.

    • Thanks! It’s an exceptional movie for sure, flawed, but very good.

  5. American Hustle is the work of a dazzling showman that has logged years of experience under his belt. We’re treated to a spectacular production that fabricates the pop culture excess of the late 70s in all its unfettered glory. One of my favorites for 2013.

    • It is a great look of the 70s and like Dazed and Confused and Boogie Nights manages to represent the decade. I thought the story was a bit unfocused at times, but it’s a solid picture for sure.

  6. My new favorite David O. Russell film!

    • Thanks for the comment. My favorite is The FIghter, but I think I would tie this with SLP for second.

  7. Great review. Saw this yesterday and will be writing up soon. Thought it went on a little too long, but it was great fun and the performances were excellent.

    • Thanks! It did go a bit too long at some parts and dragged in the middle, but the performances are more than enough to make up for those flaws.

  8. Great review, I can’t wait to see this in a few days.

    • Thanks! Hope you enjoy it.

  9. Top review. I liked your The Sting comparison, makes the film more appealing.

    • Thanks! It’s a lot like The Sting in terms of plot and direction. Exceptional picture.

  10. Good review. There isn’t much substance to this material, which probably weighed it down a lot more than I wanted to. However, the cast is superb and more than makes up for the movie’s problems.

    • Thanks! At times it does feel like Russell if favoring style over substance, but the movie’s many strengths outweigh the flaws.

  11. Really loved this flick, the story was a tad shaky though. Terrific post!

    By the way, if you could head over to my site and vote for your top 3 films of 2013, I’d be so thankful. Need to start compiling results. If the poll is closed, just leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks :).

    • Thanks! I’ll go over and vote right now.

  12. Nice review. Definitely a good review with some great performances all around. Also really loved the style and general vibe of the movie as well. B)

    • Thanks! The performances were superb and I loved the whole Scorsese feel.

  13. Awesome review. Still haven’t seen this yet but am planning to over the next couple of days.

    • Thanks! Hope you enjoy it, superb film.

  14. The opinions of this one always seem to point out the flaws but otherwise it sounds great. Can’t wait to see it. Fine write-up, my man!

    • Thanks! I thought it was kind of slow at parts, but it’s still very fun. Hope you enjoy it.

  15. Glad you enjoyed this, even if it was considerably less than me!

    What did you think of Jeremy Renner? He’s not been spoken about much (probably because of his little screen time), but I thought he had the best performance in the film, even the best performance this year.

    Great write-up, too

    • Thanks! I actually didn’t realize Jeremy Renner first (though I thought I did recognize him), but he did a great job with his character. I should have given him credit in my review.

  16. Looking forward to this – off to see it tonight. Nice review!

    • Thanks! It’s a very good movie, a bit overlong but fun.

  17. Really great movie which I actually felt was short despite its running time. Nice review.

    • Thanks! I thought a sizable chunk of the movie was a bit slow, but I had a lot of fun.

  18. Oh now you REALLY makes me want to see The Sting soon! It’s on my BlindSpot list for this year. I agree this one is not flawless but is it ever entertaining!

    • The Sting is an excellent movie and if you enjoyed this you’ll love it. The screen time probably could have been cut but it was very fun.

  19. I really liked Silver Linings Playbook, so I was a bit sad with how much Hustle disappointed me. It wasn’t bad or anything, I just didn’t care for much of it. Thought Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper were pretty bad in it too.

    • I liked it but yeah, in retrospect it wasn’t as strong as SLP. I think Russell probably could have spent more time working on the story but it was enjoyable.

Leave a Reply to ckckred Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: