American Hustle Review
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For the last few years, David O. Russell has been a director to watch. His last two films—2010’s The Fighter and 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook—garnered 15 Oscar nods and three wins. Now, he reunites with the casts of his last two films for American Hustle, a captivating (and once again award-worthy) ‘70s crime dramedy.

American Hustle stars an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a successful businessman whose key successes come from a variety of cons. When he meets stripper turned aspiring journalist Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), he immediately falls in love—and he invites her to take part in his greatest con ever.

Unfortunately for Irving, his plan hits a couple of snags—not the least of which is his needy wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). And when Irving and his beautiful partner are caught by ambitious FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), they’re forced to plan their biggest con yet in order to go free.

American Hustle has it all: clever writing, an attention-grabbing plot, and an absolutely brilliant ensemble cast. This isn’t just another award season drama; it’s a layered crime caper that’s every bit as wildly funny as it is thrilling.

Russell sets the stage perfectly, giving the film a quirky period setting—complete with outrageous ‘70s fashion and unforgettable ‘70s hairdos. From Bale’s comb-over and Cooper’s curls to Adams’s kink and Lawrence’s wild updos, it’s one big, crazy mess of outrageous hair. And it’s these touches of ‘70s camp that give the film its easy-going tone. After all, it’s pretty hard to take a character too seriously when he’s sporting a pot belly and a comical comb-over.

But don’t laugh off the film just yet—because it may be funny, but it’s not just a silly, brainless caper. It also tells a fascinating story of crime, corruption, and jealousy—one that’s loaded with clever twists and turns. At times, the finer points of the story do get a little bit confusing, but there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be too caught up in the mobsters and politicians and sheiks to care all that much.

What truly stands out about American Hustle, however, is its award-worthy performances. Bale’s performance may be memorable for his comb-over alone, but he also takes a remarkable turn as the conflicted con artist. Cooper, meanwhile, often steals the show as the fast-talking FBI agent who finds himself in way over his head. Really, though, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s picture. She may be a talented actress in her own right, but Russell seems to bring out the best in her—and although her role is a supporting one, it’s an unforgettable one, too. She’s loud and brash and absolutely hilarious as the jilted young wife.

David O. Russell has done it again. He’s brought together a phenomenal ensemble cast for a crime story that’s smart and funny and altogether absorbing. And you don’t have to be a top FBI investigator to deduce that there’s sure to be more award season gold in this noteworthy director’s not-too-distant future.

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