“You’re nothing to me until you’re everything.”
American Hustle is 2013 caper film by David O. Russell but it actually isn’t a caper film at all. Set in the 70s the film loosely based on a scandalous FBI ABSCAM operation. Our man character is Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale): husband, father, dry-cleaner, con artist. His meeting with the equally cunning Sidney Prosser aka Lady Edith Greensly (Amy Adams) not only sparks romance between the two but also begin their mutually beneficial partnership in a loaning scam. Much to the annoyance of Irving’s legitimate wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). When their operation was busted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), the two must cooperate to catch a bigger fish and caught between a crossfire of political sham and threats from the mafia.
I guess i am one of those whose mind was boggled after seeing the film, not necessarily in a good way, and questioned the unanimous praise bestowed upon by critics. Everything seemed to be overly excessive in the film, big fur coats, big risks, big hairs, big belly of Christian Bale. All seemed like an attempt to cover up the flimsy narrative with gaping plotholes and lacking of coherence. For a film inspired by a true events i found this quite baffling. The thing that save the film was the ensemble, which is fabricate this big characters that Russell just shamelessly indulge and filled with repetition (‘People believe what they want to believe‘). But if all Russell wants to do is to display this overblown character pieces, then yes, in that he succeed, but i am still confuse what is the purposes of it.
If i can summarize American Hustle in a few words, i would say: ‘David O. Russel Orgy’. Because it’s basically his all-star performers gathered as an ensemble in this particular motion picture. And you know what, their performance is the best thing that this film had. At least i can say that to Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner performances in the film. But even as a fan of Lawrence i felt that her character and performance here is just another rendition too similar to Tiffany, her character in Silver Linings Playbook. Is it entertaining and captivating? I’d say yes. Is it award worthy? Probably not. That being said her rants about something smell so good from something so rotten about nail polish top coat is one of the finest moment in the film (the other perhaps the beginning of the film where Christian Bale is covering up his balding pate). Other than that i think i adore the make up & hair and costume design that captured 70s glamour and freedom (i’d even forgive the big curly 80s hair).
Like the opening scene of the film, showing the excruciatingly long and complicated process of Irving Rosenfeld trying to cover his bald spot, only to be messed up seconds later by DiMaso. Russell seemed to be utilizing his ensamble to cover up the overall messiness of the film. Everything seemed overly shiny and fake, but i don’t think i’m buying it at all.
Perhaps the original script title, American Bullshit, would be more appropriate.
AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)
GENRE Drama, Comedy, Crime
DIRECTOR David O. Russell | PRODUCER Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison | WRITER Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell | MUSIC Danny Elfman | CINEMATOGRAPHER Linus Sandgren | EDITOR Jay Cassidy, Crispin Stuthers, Alan Baumgarten | STUDIO Annapurna Pictures | DISTRIBUTOR Columbia Pictures | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 138 minutes | BUDGET $40 Million | RATING R for pervasive language, some sexual content, and brief violence | RELEASE December 13, 2013
STARRING Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K, Robert DeNiro, Michael Peña
DID YOU KNOW? Christian Bale was cast in the lead role but due to scheduling conflicts he dropped out and was replaced by Bradley Cooper with Jeremy Renner taking over Cooper’s old role. After Bale’s schedule cleared up he rejoined the project in the same role while Cooper reverted to playing the FBI agent and David O. Russell wrote the character of Carmine Polito for Renner.