American Hustle

American Hustle
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Right at the start of this superbly stylised movie directed by David O Russell we are told that it is ‘loosely based on a true story’ and this is about the last truly coherent thing this convoluted rollercoaster of a film reveals to its audience preferring instead to second guess the viewer in a similar vein to the way the films four central protagonists constantly strive to second guess and outdo each other. It certainly is an exhilarating ride which seldom lets up or comes up for air and is genuinely worthy of all the plaudits it has been garnering.
With a cast that includes a barely recognisable Christian Bale, complete with pot belly, shiny bald head and super glued toupee, as Irving Rosenfeld a con artist more than adept at charming and smarming greedy folk out of their probably not so hard earned cash with the promise of capitalising on their investment. Where his schemes really come into their own though is when he teams up with street smart Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who re-invents herself as English gentry going by the name of Lady Edith. Their however are rumbled by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) who offers them immunity if they co-operate in a scheme to ensnare city officials and congressmen on the make in a bid to stop corruption and further his career.
Added to this self serving trio of miscreants is Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) whom he brilliantly describes as ‘The Picasso of passive-aggressive karate’ and who frequently unintentionally delivers a few kicks and blows which constantly threaten to undermine all their hard laboured scheming and plotting with hilarious results. Along the way Robert De Niro hitches a ride as the legal representative of some high placed mobster.
The plot is simultaneously convoluted but constantly entertaining and it is hard not to become embroiled in the fantastical story lines as they crash, collide, twist, turn and resolve themselves in a far from predictable manner. Each of the four actors plays off the other brilliantly and I can honestly say this is the first film I have ever enjoyed Bradley Cooper in.
The stylisation of the movie is impeccable with hair pieces, cool shades and curlers fighting for screen space alongside Adams’ seemingly never ending collection of plunging necklines slashed to the navel. The soundtrack is also well crafted with Bowie, Steely Dan, America’s ‘Horse with No Name’, The Temptations, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington all adding to the vibe. At one juncture there is a dance off between Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love and ‘Delilah’ by Tom Jones taking place on the same night at the same time in two different places.
Already the recipient of several major awards at the Golden Globes-including the mighty Best Picture- ‘American Hustle’ now looks set to do the same at the Oscars in two months time with its nearest competition being Steve Mc Queen’s outstanding ’12 Years A Slave’. Whatever the outcome on the night and regardless of awards-which don’t always reflect quality but the prejudices and influence of industry insiders- both films definitely deserve the plaudits they are receiving and both are very much worth seeing.

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