Movie Review Series: “American Hustle”


If you are looking for an action packed thriller with car chases and drawn out gun scenes, David O Russell’s new movie “American Hustle” is not it.  Instead, Russell re-creates an elegant and poetic storyline set in the 1970’s that is complete with well-developed and intriguingly complex characters.

The story gets rolling when Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), an intelligent, but quiet con man who sells stolen and forged artwork, meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a former stripper building career for herself in New York City, at what looks like a sleezy and uncomfortable winter indoor pool party.  Prosser and Rosenfeld strangely fall in love and begin working together in Rosenfeld’s coning business.

Taking from Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”, Russell uses a voiceover narration for Rosenfeld and Prosser to layer the complexity of the characters and retell the past of both characters.  The narration can really help explain what is going on in times of confusion.

Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) is an FBI agent who catches Rosenfeld and Prosser while also adding an intricate dynamic of love into the story when he begins to connect with Prosser.  Hands down my favorite scene in the movie is when DiMaso and Prosser go dancing at the disco club.  With Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” playing in the background, DiMaso and Prosser really work the dance floor hard before having quite the interesting interaction in a bathroom stall.

None of the characters are that forgettable, but I can really see Christian Bale, with his unintentional wit, questionable haircut, and thick New York Jewish accent, being nominated for an Academy Award.  Personally, I liked seeing Jeremy Renner play the governor of New Jersey.  It was cool seeing Renner take a step outside his comfort zone and not play his typical action hero or street gangster role.  Amy Adams, in one of her most compelling performances yet, is definitely not afraid to don the low-cleaved shirts throughout the movie and tease both Rosenfeld and DiMaso.  Robert De Niro and Louis C.K. also play smaller roles in the film.

It was also nice to see some local connection in the movie with one scene including Bale and Renner filmed at Christie’s diner in Lynn and another one with Jennifer Lawrence filmed in the dining room of Swampscott’s own Anthony’s Pier 4. With the wide shots in Anthony’s Pier 4 you can even see the entire boardwalk and Red Rock park.

Not going to say it’s the best movie I’ve seen, but it definitely lands in the top 25%.  Whatever the medium is, you have to appreciate a good piece of art and that’s exactly what this movie is.  All in all I give Russell’s “American Hustle” a 7.8 out of 10


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