‘American Hustle’ review

By Haley Costen
Staff Writer

Anyone scrambling to see all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars on March 2 will not be disappointed by “American Hustle.”

The 1970s comedy-drama, directed by David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”), is filled with classic music, big laughs, and even bigger hair.

Christian Bale stars as Irving Rosenfeld, a small-time con artist, who along with his cunning girlfriend and partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), gets sucked into a dangerous game with the mafia and government.

After getting caught for their crimes, the couple is forced to work with Richard DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), the volatile, violent FBI agent obsessed with more busts and more power. Jeremy Renner plays Carmine Polito, the passionate New Jersey mayor caught in the con artist’s game.

Jennifer Lawrence, in a stunning performance that won her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, plays Rosayln, Irving’s young wife who threatens to bring the whole operation down.

While the film won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical, it should not simply defined as a comedy. Though the perms, bad comb-overs, and ’70s velvet jackets and cleavage-baring wardrobe is enough to warrant a few laughs. It is stacked high with tension and emotion.

The audience seemed to hold in a collective breath as Victor Tellegio, a frightening mob boss played by Robert De Niro in his most challenging role yet (just kidding), nearly discovered the cons’ ruse. Meanwhile, tensions mount as the characters’ relationships are strained and they wonder just who is actually being conned.

While the characters are deeply flawed and unlikeable due to their crimes, their past, and their manipulative personal relationships, O. Russell somehow creates characters that the audience cannot help but root for.

The film ends on a hopeful note, with the message that the American dream is attainable for even the biggest cons.

The story is a fictionalized account of the FBI’s ABSCAM sting operations, which took place in the ’70s. As the opening screen states, “Some of this actually happened.”

ABSCAM led to the arrest of several members of the House of Representatives, one member of the New Jersey State Senate, the mayor of Camden New Jersey, members of the Philadelphia City Council, and a member of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The film got a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.7 out of 10 on IMDB. “American Hustle” is in theaters now.