Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘American Hustle’ Review: Russell’s Newest Film Will Make You Love the ’70s

There’s so much to love and praise in director and writer David O. Russell’s newest film. The original screenplay is based off of one of craziest scandals to rock the late ‘70s and features dozens of hilarious moments, several plunging neckline dresses, disco ball dances, combed over hair pieces, Jerry-curl perms, heavy New Jersey accents, countless romantic affairs and a few Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese references that only film buffs could adore. Oh, and there’s also Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence reuniting since last year’s Silver Linings Playbook. If that doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will!

Intelligent, but sleazy con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) makes his living on taking innocent people’s money with the help of his provocative assistant Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). When Irving and Sydney get caught red handed by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), he convinces the two to help the FBI catch crooked congressman in order for their slate to be wiped clean.

Richie wants to start with Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), New Jersey’s beloved political operator and family man. Irving and his unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) end up becoming close to Carmine and his family, so Irving is forced to question his loyalty to the FBI over a new, trusted and mainly innocent friend. Not only that, while Irving and Sydney are continuing their long-term affair, Irving’s wife Rosalyn will do anything to destroy Sydney to keep him away from her husband. With all of the deceit, backstabbing and gaudy 1978 clothing and jewelry, American Hustle offers several chuckles and jaw-dropping moments.

Christian Bale;Amy Adams

If it were up to me, every actor would get recognized with a nomination at the Oscars this year, just like last year with David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence give it their all as these ‘70s rock stars and everything from Bale’s obese stomach to Lawrence’s New Jersey accent is memorizing to watch. It’s clear this group of actors has fantastic chemistry and can bounce lines off of one another, much like Tarantino’s dialogue heavy scenes.

As much as I adored Bale in Out of the Furnace, which came out only a few weeks ago, he’s equally amazing in a slightly showier performance as the New Jersey con artist. Bale gained over 40 pounds for the role; so yes that is his real stomach in the swimsuit scene. It’s clear Bale is committed to acting, and although his character is pretty scummy, he balances Irving with a softer side that makes the audience understand why Sydney and Rosalyn both fell in love with him.

And no shocker here…Jennifer Lawrence is amazing in every single second that she inhabits the screen, somehow effortlessly scene-stealing from the amazing Christian Bale, which I never thought could be possible. The 22-year-old actress will most certainly be nominated for an Academy Award and if I’d have my way she’d win for transforming such a small character in the screenplay to the most memorable one in the film.

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I’ve also never seen Amy Adams better and it saddens me her work her as the sexy con artist with the fake British accent is getting overlooked in the midst of award season. As much as I’m obsessed with Christian Bale, the two stars of the film are its females with Adams and Lawrence. If you haven’t already heard about it (not likely), pay attention to the bathroom with these actresses; its every bit as hilarious, depressing and seductive all at the same time.

To a film buff, it’s obvious that Russell is paying homage to some of his favorite filmmakers, including Tarantino and Scorsese. When Bradley Cooper’s character draws a square, it’s a blatant homage to Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction and Robert De Niro’s quick, but satisfying scene is homage to Goodfellas.

American Hustle is easily one of the year’s best films and its obvious the talent, screenplay and director are all awards-worthy, but what’s more is that David O. Russell clearly know how to have fun when making a movie. His joy shows through the intoxicating scenes and becomes contagious to the audience in the best way possible.

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