American Hustle is one of those movies where you walk out of the theater unsure as to whether or not you really, truly liked what you just saw. You need time to digest it, to sift through what just happened. I’m not saying it’s a thinking man’s movie (which is a stupid phrase anyways), but it is a movie that makes you think.
So after a good 24 hours of thinking I’ve finally come to the conclusion that American Hustle is a really, really good film.
Written and directed by David O. Russell, it’s a tale told by talented storytellers. There are a lot of voiceovers, but rather than being used as a cheap way of catching the audience up on what’s going on, here they actually enhance the film.
It’s a convoluted plot, and watching it unfold on screen was mesmerizing, so I’m only going to give a basic rundown. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a con man who falls in love with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Sydney becomes his ‘partner in crime,’ helping him to swindle desperate people out of their money.
Eventually their greed catches up to them and they’re forced to work for FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Richie has big dreams and he needs some talented scammers to help him root out corruption. But rather than catch the small fries, his gets greedier and greedier until he’s forcing Sydney and Irving to try and trap Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) in a very convoluted scheme. Then shit hits the fan.
The movie isn’t linear, and this works to its advantage. It actually starts you off at the middle, goes back to the beginning, then finally catches up with itself at the perfect moment. Surprisingly, this doesn’t lead to confusion. It actually makes the story even better by showing you just how fucked everyone is right off the bat before unfolding how it got to that point.
Then, when you think things can’t get any more convoluted and dangerous, American Hustle happy shows you just how wrong you are.
Even better than the story is the acting. Christian Bale is nearly unrecognizable with a pot belly and a ridiculous comb over. Amy Adams is fantastic and constantly keeps the audience and her fellow actors on their toes. Bradley Cooper again reminds us that despite his looks, the man can play a total douchebag better than almost anyone out there.
Hell, I can pretty much compliment the entire cast, especially Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn. She plays completely against type and is utterly convincing as a total basket case.
Also, Louis C.K. is in it, and that’s just good.