American Hustle (2013): Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams - 4 Stars
"People see only what they want to see."
"Hear only what they want to hear."
Iriving Rosenfeld - American Hustle (2013)
American Hustle is set in the Spring of 1978 in New Jersey. This hilarious, uproarious and riveting fictional tale is based on some facts and centers around the real and magnetic small time con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) with a comb over that trumps Donald Trump along with his cohort in crime the wickedly sexy and British - The Lady Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams - Best Actress in a Comedy - Golden Globe Award). Rosenfeld owns several dry cleaners with additional lucrative and illegal behind the scenes opportunities. These two flim flam artists (think of the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz (1939) prior to being in Oz) sell anything and everything to the gullible and to those believing in "get rich schemes". "Give me $5K and you will make $50K" is repeated over and over. People believe it, fall for it with Rosenfeld and Prosser profiting all the way to the bank. Then along comes a spider, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) with the early 80's permed hair, falling for the "give me cash and you will profit", only for the game to twist and reveal that DiMaso is FBI. Herein, begins the story about the real con game in the late 1970's and early 1980's, known as Abscam, when FBI agents posed as Arab Sheiks to corral corrupt Congressman.
Let the high stakes con games commence only at an entirely different level where Mafia and superior forces are the name of the game and win, die or go to prison are the only outcomes. DiMaso pushes these two or rather gives them no other option to participate in this sting. Enters Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) mayor of New Jersey portrayed as wanting to help "the people" only with his hand conveniently out under the table. Additionally, Rosenfeld, though madly in love with Prosser, is actually married to the crazed passive and aggressive wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who is spellbinding in her role. She is utterly stupendous as the scorned and ruthless wife with no mercy. The manipulative woman who warps every word to her advantage.
The ensemble is brilliantly marinated with Bale, Cooper, Renner, Adams and Lawrence, the storyline set and the magic, cunning and a wicked ride sets sail. The costumes are straight from Saturday Night Fever (1977), with big hair, low cut dresses, wild disco scenes and parties with memorable songs all culminating in maddening chaos. Bale is absolutely mesmerizing with an astonishing 40lb pot belly, glued on hair, who is believable and likeable. One can't help but have empathy for him even though the character is flawed and a small time petty huckster. Cooper is an overly zealous FBI agent with a raging temper on a mission. Renner is a show piece with Elvis hair and fake persona. Adams gives a stellar performance as she plays Rosenfeld and DiMaso with her womanly ways, while Lawrence is opportunistic and vibrantly insane.
American Hustle, is hilarious, raunchy, witty, intelligently written and completely and utterly tangled. The audience is kept in suspense from start to finish. And, delightfully entertained throughout every frame.
Similar to scene in The Wizard of Oz (1939)...when Dorothy is beseeching the great Oz who is conveniently hidden behind the curtain bestowing the Lion his gift of courage, the Tin Man a heart and Dorothy wanting to be go home.....All three believe in the magical voice behind the projected face on a screen....until they find out he is just a man and not a mighty wizard.
"People see only what they want to see."
"Hear only what they want to hear."This quote rings a bell in a mad cap world where everyone seems to be looking for the golden ticket or an easy path from rages to riches. And, in this ingenious fictional though half truth saga in 1978 instead of the world being black and white there are many many shades of grey and perhaps the ultimate con is played out in the American Hustle!
Directed by David O'Russell - Silver Linings Playbook (2012); The Fighter (2010)