"American Hustle" is a 2013 drama starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence. Bale portrays Irving Rosenfeld, a brilliant con man who works among the ranks of the New Jersey elite. Amy Adams portrays Sydney Prosser, Rosenfeld's beautiful British partner in crime. Between Irving's sophisticated wit and Prosser's charm, the two make a formidable pair against even the shrewdest of victims. The drama begins when FBI agent Richie DiMaso forces Irving and Prosser to help him take down an undercover mafia ring. Even Irving finds himself in over his head with some of the most notorious loan sharks and con men in New Jersey.
"American Hustle" (watch trailer) is a film that truly stands out thanks to its dramatic flair and an intense storyline that more closely resembles that of a television show than a single film. The characters are well developed, and the world is built with great attention to every last detail of the late '70s, the period in which the film takes place. With the recent success of "The Great Gatsby," it's no surprise that "American Hustle" has received such critical acclaim. The lush, vibrant world of colors, glamor, and big money is perfectly painted in a way that feels both thoroughly modern and unabashedly nostalgic.
Another aspect that makes "American Hustle" stand out is its all-star cast. Christian Bale is known for his leading roles in intense, gritty psychological thrillers and action films such as the "Dark Knight" trilogy and "American Psycho." Bradley Cooper is not to be overlooked in his role as the sly Richie DiMaso, FBI agent and manipulator extraordinaire.
Cooper and Bale may be welcome additions to any cast list, but the ones who really steal the show in "American Hustle" are Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams. Adams is the perfect pick to portray the glamorous and intelligent Sydney. Whether she is using her charms to lure her victims in or talking her way out of a tough situation, Sydney is a force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence turns the role of damsel in distress on its head with her portrayal of Rosalyn Rosenfeld. Rosalyn at first appears to be little more than arm candy for Irving, but as the story progresses, it becomes obvious that her destiny holds far more than living in the shadow of her notorious husband. Rosalyn may seem innocent, but time will show that she actually holds the key to the secrets that could topple Irving's world of crime and intrigue with a single blow.
With any period piece, music can make or break the film. "American Hustle" stands out not only visually but in terms of its musical score as well. Director David O. Russell chose understated yet energetic music that moves this film through each scene with a perfect pace. The soundtrack sets the tone for the film's glamorous backdrop, blending elements of modern music with classic jazz and instrumental music.
Perhaps the most notable element of "American Hustle" is the unique way in which it toys with the crime drama genre. Normally, films focus on a protagonist who happens to be on the right side of the law. At the worst, the leading man may be an antihero with gray morals. "American Hustle" puts the con man who would typically be cast as a villain in the shoes of the main protagonist. DiMaso may be an FBI agent, but he causes a significant amount of trouble and friction for the film's main character, and sometimes it becomes difficult to tell exactly which side of the law he is truly on. Irving's struggle to maintain his limited and questionable morality provides a truly unique perspective for the viewer to engage with.
"American Hustle" is easily one of the most unique and exciting films to hit theaters in recent months. The film boasts all the flair and visual glamor of "The Great Gatsby" along with its own completely unique storyline. The leading cast is one of the best compilations of Hollywood's most in-demand actors and actresses to be seen, featuring both established actors and rising stars. Plenty of intrigue surrounds the film and the various relationships between its characters. All is not as it seems, especially considering that director David O. Russell has a penchant for including unexpected plot twists and turns in his films. For anyone who wants to watch an exciting dramatic film about the glamorous underworld of a bygone era with the character development of a longer series, "American Hustle" is impossible to beat.