‘American Hustle’ captures ‘70s era

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Brent Bader, IV Leader Editor

From the opening titles, which have been altered to appear as if they come from an older age, to the closing credits it becomes clear that “American Hustle” has an undeniable admiration for the ‘70s and by the end of its 138 minute runtime, so will you.

“American Hustle” comes from director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) and while it is centered on the real FBI Abscam operation of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the actual characters and events in this film have been fictionalized for the most part as the opening credits makes it a point to state, “Some of this actually happened.”

Russell has re-assembled some his past associates such as Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence while also roping in some new ones for supporting roles like Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. and in doing so has created one of the best ensemble casts of the past year.

Bale specifically has made quite the transformation to play the overweight and balding conman Irving Rosenfeld whose sly yet not so assertive personality plays well with Bradley Cooper’s abrasive and wild Richie DiMaso.

Early in the film FBI Agent DiMaso traps Rosenfeld and his con woman Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams, in a no-win scenario working to capture politicians and mobsters in various sting operations. It becomes quite clear that the duo is punching above their weight and plan to subvert the FBI while escaping from under DiMaso’s heel at the earliest opportunity.

Some of the intricacies of the Abscam sting operations are glossed over in favor of highlighting these various characters’ motivations which works well when you have rich characters like these.

Amy Adams’ character also contrasts nicely with Lawrence’s character Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Irving’s wife, despite the two not sharing much screen time. Lawrence’s Rosalyn is sweet on the outside but sour on the inside, much like her famous nail polish, and the two begin a struggle to control the weak-willed Irving.

Once DiMaso finds an interest in Prosser the film’s love triangle quickly becomes a love quadrangle and becomes another spinning plate that the film balances perfectly without completely
losing the audience in the web its created.

Everyone is wearing iconic ‘70’ clothing and hair styles, Di- Maso’s perm is the real standout and despite being a successful con-man Bale’s comb-over isn’t fooling anyone which works well with his character.

To top it all off the film features a soundtrack straight out of the ‘70s with songs from Paul
McCartney and David Bowie just to name a few.

“American Hustle” wears the ‘70s on its sleeve and it does such a great job at recreating that era you can almost feel the hairspray in the air.

If there were any problems with “American Hustle” they mainly seem to reside with the hustles themselves. Because of the time spent examining the characters not much is spent explaining some of the sting operations themselves. Even when the operations are in progress, the character’s own motivations are still generally present under the surface. The end itself feels particularly quickly glossed over and fails to deliver the “best one we’ve ever did” that the trailers tease at, but the film still stands strong despite it.

“American Hustle” is a fantastic ensemble film that balances the drama and comedic atmosphere well while also perfectly encapsulating the ‘70s era.

While the overall con of the film can feel lackluster at times, the characters themselves more than make up for it. Between the strong cast of actors and the vivid era that they’ve recreated, “American Hustle” is a con that you’re going to want in on.

“American Hustle” was released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital Download on March 18.

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