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3 ½ out of 4 stars
In David O. Russell’s latest flick, “American Hustle,” we’re treated to a mostly fictitious retelling of the Abscam sting that occurred in the late ’70s and it plays a little like “Boogie Nights” meets “Goodfellas” — but not in a bad way.
The film, set in 1978, focuses on the lives of Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams, two con artists whose luck just ran out. Busted by Richie Dimaso, played by Bradley Cooper, they end up laying the groundwork for a plan by Richie to bring down corrupt politicians and possibly the head of the mob. There’s just a few monkey wrenches thrown into the plan, mostly those involving Irving’s wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, turning in a hilariously ditsy performance as Rosalyn, whose son Irving adopted. Jeremy Renner also turns in a fine performance as Mayor Polito, a politician just looking to rebuild his city, albeit in a dirty way.
While the film can be considered a drama, there are enough laugh out loud moments to balance it out and the performances are stellar. Amy Adams is certain to get another Oscar nod and Bale’s charm balances out all the performances nicely.
— Ron Adams, Athens
3 out of 4 stars
“American Hustle” is based on some “events that actually happened” and boasts a powerhouse cast, including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. This is a movie about exploitation and, through a series of twists and turns, it becomes difficult to predict who is going to take advantage of whom next. The film is shot in washed-out colors and features terrific late-’70s costumes.
Bale turns in an Oscar-worthy performance, transforming his clean-cut, buff frame to that of a scruffy, puffy character with what might be the worst comb-over in history. Adams’ portrayal of Bale’s partner in crime was a bit of a miss for me; while she looked stunning in her cleavage-revealing dresses and permed tresses, I found her inconsistent British accent and frequent mugging to be distracting. Lawrence has a smaller role here, but she delivers some great zingers with her usual fire and quirkiness. Watch for some big stars in smaller roles, too, including Louis C.K. and Jeremy Renner.
One of the highlights for me was the soundtrack for “American Hustle,” which features period songs by Chicago, Bee Gees and others. “Love Boat” theme crooner Jack Jones makes a brief appearance singing with a live band, too. Be sure to listen out for a couple new songs by Electric Light Orchestra front man Jeff Lynne.
— Paul Tate, Sugar Hill
4 out of 4 stars
Sexy, glamorous and fun are the perfect descriptors for “American Hustle.” The con games are challenging but relatively safe until FBI agent Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper) decides to use con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) to make his career in the bureau. Danger mounts as his haste to bet it all to take down everyone he can throws them all into a much bigger pool where the stakes are literally life and death.
Irving sees himself as a family man just trying to make a living for himself, his insane wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and their son Danny. He is methodical in his approach to ripping off the down and out. He has spent his whole career avoiding the powerful as marks. Now, he is forced to go against his own rules. How he deals with this unhappy situation makes this one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.
— Deborah Guy,