Hustle is the name of the game; it is the extent of the hustle that makes this one to remember. The beauty of this story is that all the while these characters are getting played and conned, so too is the audience. By the time you realize this, the film is over and you are left, not necessarily confused, but more impressed by what you just saw. It’s almost like a magic act; while the crowd is distracted by what is in front of them, the gears are turning behind the curtain. Unlike a magic act though, here not even the curtain is seen, no real deceit is noticed until the end and it’s a true work of genius from start to finish.
The first film I recall ever seeing from director David O. Russell is Three Kings. While I now am old enough to really appreciate that movie, at the time of its release I thought it was too bizarre to actually enjoy it. After Three Kings came I Heart Huckabees, at this point I had given up any hope of ever enjoying a David O. Russell directed feature. But then, in 2010, he directed a movie called The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in a biopic about boxing champion Micky Ward. As an avid boxing fan, I had to check it out and from that moment on I had faith again that maybe Mr. Russell did have something to offer that I would like after all. And any remnants of doubt were obliterated when he brought the world Silver Linings Playbook, one of my personal favorites of 2012. After that film I was sold, I was officially a David O. Russell fan. With American Hustle he further proves that he has… it, the good stuff, the know how to making an excellent, Oscar worthy film. And I promise, come February 2014, you will hear this picture mentioned a lot and justifiably so.
To Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), life itself is one big hustle. It is a hustle to eat, sleep, basically just to survive day to day. While his hustle game was on point, it was nowhere near its full potential; that is until the day he met Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). With her help the game of conning people would be elevated to a level Irving never could have imagined. But with bigger gains comes greater attention brought upon them. This means federal agencies; this means Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) at their front door. When the game is up, when their scheme is busted they are faced with two options; prison or help the FBI.
The difference here, and Irving tries to explain this, is that the con jobs he pulled were small time, small equals a better chance of success. The job the FBI wants help on is huge and not to be taken lightly. With the threat of long prison time, Irving and Sydney reluctantly take on one last hustle. If Richie gets what he wants every politician who even smells crooked is going down. Even the honest ones like Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) who thought Irving was his friend and simply got into business with the wrong people. Richie couldn’t see that his blind ambition was going to get him into heaps of trouble. Relying on two con artists was ill advised and they intend on making him pay. Let the hustle begin.
Even if the script is great, which it is, if the cast is wrong the film will not work. The cast is perfectly crafted to create one of the best films of 2013. With the exception of a few actors, most of this cast is David O. Russell alumni having worked on either The Fighter or Silver Linings Playbook. When you find something that works, why mess with it? The cast is everything you could ever want featuring the talented performances of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence in yet another Academy Award worthy performance, Robert De Niro, and even comedian genius, Louis C.K.
This is a powerhouse of a movie and definitely needs to be seen. Every actor is on their A game, the cinematography is beautiful, and the soundtrack is a treat all its own. Set in the late 70’s, early 80’s, everything from the wonderful music to the accurate wardrobes, this movie screams perms and disco and it’s truly a privilege to watch. It is an in depth story that requires complete attention with a big payoff for those that stick with it, so please, stick with it. This is certainly, without a doubt, going in my top ten films list for 2013 and I think others do, or will, agree with me that this is something not to be missed.
Rated R For: pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Run Time: 138 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Robert De Niro
Directed By: David O. Russell
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
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