American HustleHow The Game Is Played
American Hustle
Stars: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence
Director: David O. Russell
Scriptwriters; David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
Composer: Danny Elfman
Columbia Pictures
Rating: R for language and themed material
Running Length: 138 Minutes
First of all, you may need a notebook and pen to see this film. There are several characters who interact with each other, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. Disguises, name changes and you never know who is a crook, an FBI person or bystander. Thus said, American Hustle offers an ensemble cast of talented actors who do things you don't expect. Christian Bale with a toupee, Bradley Cooper perming his hair, Amy Adams with a British accent and Jennifer Lawrence in blonde. The film is set in the 1970’s with appropriate-age cars, clothing, music (oh, what a soundtrack and title music by Danny Elfman) and language. This reminds one of films you see at 2 a.m. on a week night. Directed and scripted by David O. Russell, American Hustle tells the story of two people who team to scam, get caught, and then many people are brought into a new scheme with the FBI. Honest living? What’s that?
We begin with a shot of  Irving (Christian Bale) dying his hair and putting a toupee on top of it. Nothing obvious there, but then, as said in the film, “…the power of intention is attention.”  He’s worked alone, but when he meets Sydney (Amy Adams) it’s like love at first sight, she does a British accent, and the scheme aims for more money. Enter Richie (Bradley Cooper) an overly-enthusiastic FBI agent who catches them and has them work with him to go after bigger fish. One of the running gags is how much money Richie can get from his FBI bosses for this scheme. Richie is in dead earnest about catching crooks. Along the way, there are enjoyable personalities including Irving’s ex-wife, Jennifer Lawrence who is a diva and has partial custody of their son (don't put metal in the microwave and she does); Jeremy Renner as a mayor in New Jersey who isn't exactly honest, and a multitude of actors with only a few lines to say who liven their scenes and there may even be familiar star faces in the crowds.
Christian Bale is just about unrecognizable as the hustler who is in love, but can't always make up his mind between women. Hidden beneath a beard and lots of hair, his eyes still manage expression. Amy Adams has to wander between the character, Sydney, and “the woman who speaks with an accent” and each has a persona. Bradley Cooper’s hair and temper tantrums make him a stand-out here. I was one of the few film critics who didn't care for his role in Silver Linings Playbook but he was very good in A Place In The Pines and here, in Hustle. Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman whose brain seems to have stayed on the kitchen counter. The new invention, a microwave, cowers before this gal. Jeremy Renner gives the word “politician” new meaning and you wouldn't believe this is the same guy from The Hurt Locker. All in all, the cast inAmerican Hustle works believably well. Oscar nominations could come calling here for actors, actresses, director and scriptwriter.
American Hustle is a well put-together film. There is a world of people who prey on other people and don't think anything of it. Greed enters and the schemes grow larger and complex. You feel uneasy about all of it. What could possibly go wrong? This movie  moves along at its own pace, and not always in a straight line. To go from Point A to Point B there can be a right turn, left turn, upside down, crossways and overhead. Just hang onto your arm rests and follow, the music will lead you.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
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