Monday, February 10, 2014

AMERICAN HUSTLE

Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper,
Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence

"Everyone Hustles to Survive"


The film starts with Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) painstakingly arranging his comb over in front of a mirror with an unbuttoned shirt showing his beer gut hanging out of his hairy chest. If you are sensitive, you would cringe at this very unpleasant sight. But if you not, you will chuckle and watch as he puts in a lot of effort for his hair piece to look 'perfect'.

I believe it is the same with director David O. Russell as he goes to great lengths to showcase the compelling story about a pair of con artists.  His keen eye to make everything look authentic from the characters' wardrobe, their hair style as well as the entire neighborhood is praiseworthy.

Set in the 1970's and early 1980's, it involves an elaborate scheme hatched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation aided by a convicted con-man (Irving Rosenfeld) to set up corrupt politicians who accepted bribes. All of these incidents are captured on videos. This sting led to nearly a dozen arrests including U.S. senators, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a handful of other politicians in the state of New Jersey. This is the reason, the disclaimer "some of this actually happened"  was flashed across the screen at the beginning of the film.

So while this whole sting incident did occur, Russell's film is also highly fictional with regards to the life of conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his partner in crime and in bed Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). When Rosenfeld is caught, he makes a deal with an ambitious rogue FBI agent named Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to help him capture other con artists.  

But the operation takes on a whole different dynamic when politicians enter the picture.  Suddenly, the entrapment shifts from simply setting up con men to capturing as many politicians on the take as possible. 

The viewer must be warned to keep their eyes and ears wide open and see beyond all the big hair, the comb over, the cleavage and the whole 70s retro stuff.   Essentially, there is a complex storyline which sublimely unfolds with a nice plethora of 70s songs in its soundtrack.  Many multidimensional characters are thrown in the mix and side plots overlap with the main story ... so it can be quite confusing to keep up with everything that is going on.  

Yet the impressive ensemble cast composed of talented actors (who have all worked together at some point in some of Russell's previous movies) do more than their share to make "American Hustle" an engrossing film to watch.  

There are lessons to be learned and messages to be absorbed even when we are distracted by the height of Jeremy Renner's hair, Christian Bale's comb over, Bradley Cooper's hair curlers, Jennifer Lawrence's nail polish and Amy Adams' cleavage!

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