American Hustle (2013)

Although it isn’t fully released in the UK yet, I took advantage of an early release at the Vue West End in London to see American Hustle a few days ago. I love just about all of the actors and actresses in it, and though I’m new to the David O. Russell bandwagon I did enjoy Silver Linings Playbook. All in all, it’s well worth checking out.

The film starts out with the line: “Some of this actually happened.” Witty. And I wasn’t actually familiar with the story on which it’s based, so I had to do a little investigative work of my own when I got home. I found a good article from Politico here that looks at both the film and the real events. It gives insight into Jeremy Renner‘s character Mayor Carmine Polito (Mayor Angelo Errichetti in real life) more than any of the others in the film. Errichetti’s finance director Richard Cignalia is quoted as saying, “For all the mayors I worked for, he was THE mayor. If you went to him with a problem, he was accessible, and he really did care about the city. I hope he doesn’t look like a big crook who didn’t care.” And I think they portrayed him well. Renner plays a man who is willing to work outside the law, but still puts his city and family first. Everything he does is for them. His intentions are good even if he doesn’t like to follow the rules.

And the rest of the film – the acting is all great. I really loved Jennifer Lawrence as Irving’s wife Rosalyn. She’s completely crazy but still somehow endearing in a way. Plus Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld and Amy Adams as his sidekick and lover Sydney Prosser. His awful combover is just hideously amazing and the opening scene showing him fixing it up is a great introduction to the movie. Not to mention Richie (played by Bradley Cooper) stepping in and really pissing him off by messing up the combover.

None of the characters are straightforward, and I think that’s what makes the movie so interesting. There isn’t a lot of action and the plot moves slow at times. It’s a film driven by its characters, and they really do a fantastic job of pulling it off. Irving (Bale) is a con man who justifies everything he does as being for the greater good. He’s not in love with his wife anymore, but he wants to provide for his son and that’s why he uses fraudulent businesses to make money. Because he can make a lot of money that way. And his wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) is both crazy and likeable, she’s manipulative but at the same time you can’t help but like her. Sydney (Adams) dreams of living a better life and will do anything necessary to get that – including conning money out of others and acting as though she is a wealthy British woman with banking connections.

Then there’s FBI agent Richie (Cooper) – his relationship with his boss, played by Louis C.K., was fun for me. And I wasn’t aware Louis C.K. was in the film in the first place, so that was a nice surprise when he showed up. Poor guy never gets to finish his ice fishing story, but Richie sure does get a kick out of making up his own endings to it throughout the movie. But that just makes it all the better when he gets whats coming to him at the end. Again, a character who is, by his job title, meant to be the good guy – but throughout the film he is just as manipulative as the rest and more self-centered. Still, you can’t help but enjoy scenes with him.

It’s a movie that’s funny, a little crazy, and very well done. Don’t go in expecting a traditional crime drama because this film is less action and more character development. With a cast like this, that makes for a great film.

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