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article imageReview: ‘American Hustle’ is sweet-talking moviegoers Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 20, 2013 in Entertainment
In ‘American Hustle,’ a con man and his seductive partner are forced to work with a wild FBI agent who puts them in the mafia’s crosshairs.
People believe what they want to believe. That's practically printed on every grifter's imaginary business card. It's usually what makes conning people so simple. The mark wants to believe there is easy money to be made or whatever the lie may be is real because they are too desperate to consider the alternative. In American Hustle, there are so many lies it's difficult to keep track of who is getting ready to stab who in the back.
Growing up in the Bronx, Irving (Christian Bale) understood the ebb and flow of legitimate business — and how the flow could be made stronger with a little help. As he grew, he never stopped hustling. Meeting Sydney (Amy Adams), a small town girl with big dreams and a knack for accents, changed his life. But you can only run the same scam for so long before someone catches on and the cops start sniffing around. Detective Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) sees an opportunity to make a name for himself by using these small-time crooks to hook bigger fish. But as the payoff grows more significant so does the risk and not everyone is prepared for the consequences.
The opening shot is an undeniable attention grabber — audiences are invited behind the curtain to witness the construction of the most elaborate comb over to ever appear on screen. This introduction to the players is lifted from the middle of the narrative. It then rewinds to Irving's streetwise beginnings and tells the story of his partnership with Sydney, a.k.a. Lady Edith. While nothing about Richie is known before he met the con artists, the brief glimpses into his home life and his other interactions tell viewers everything they need to know — Sydney reads him like a book.
The indulgent lifestyle of the '70s and early '80s informs the overall aesthetic of the picture. The extravagant wardrobes, unnecessarily large homes and luxury hotel rooms adorned with gold and opulent accessories fill every scene. The audience — like the victims — are drawn by all the bling, which also explains the debt and desperation that makes so much of the story possible.
This is a departure for each of the main actors in the film, but director David O. Russell clearly admires their talent as he’s worked with them all previously. Bale tips his scales in the opposite direction of his usual delivery, becoming less attractive but more charismatic. The way he plays with his hair when he's anxious is one of those simple mannerisms that rounds out a character and that he nails. Cooper is a hot mess. The bigger the prize grows, the more out of control he becomes. His internal struggle with morality slowly shifts to lunacy. Adams is in control at all times. She's usually the smartest person in the room and knows how to get what and where she wants in life. And Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Irving's wife, is Cooper's female counterpart – beautiful but destructive.
It doesn't matter how much of the story is true because the film is the real deal.
Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper
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