Featuring an all-star cast, including Oscar winners Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, alongside with Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, O. Russell bases the film loosely [‘Some of this actually happened’] on the Abscam bribery scandal that rocked the US in the 70’s and 80’s.
The film follows con-man Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner in crime and bit on the side, Sydney Prosser (Adams), as they are finally caught in the act of there dodgy dealings and forced to work for FBI agent, Richard DiMaso (Cooper).
Rosenfeld and Prosser were now like small fishes in a big pond after DiMaso, an eccentric agent determined to land some big names to impressive his bosses [and feed his ego], had dragged them into the hardcore seedy underbelly of America. Corrupt politicians and mobsters were a massive step up for the duo used to dealing with fake paintings and bogus loans, and the further DiMaso took them into this world, the more the pair began to question everything: themselves, each other, and the lives they had been living. Rosenfeld also had to contend with his irrational, and highly emotional wife, Rosalyn Lawrence, played by the fabulous Jennifer Lawrence, who he feared would spill the beans as to his undercover operations with the FBI.
The success of American Hustle is down to the strength of the characters O. Russell has created, and the environment he built for them to thrive in. The vibrant, edgy script makes the film what it is, rather than its interesting, but certainly not original, plot line. There is no surprise that the four leading actors have picked up Golden Globe nominations, with Oscar nods seemingly guaranteed. Cooper’s eccentricity as DiMaso echoes his performance in Silver Linings Playbook, whilst Lawrence was as terrifyingly sassy and engaging as ever.
It was Bale, however, that led the way. On the face of it, Rosenfeld was a strong-minded, sharp-tongued con-man, but underneath the comb-over and the pot-belly, we soon saw a man riddled with self-doubt and insecurities, but also, and most importantly to the story, a conscience. Bale displayed a wide range of emotions so effortlessly, but is at his best when Rosenfeld is at his weakest – dealing with mobsters and croaks that are well above his station.
O. Russell has kicked of 2014 with a bang. Do not be fooled by the glitz and glamour, American Hustle has the substance to match.