Monday, December 30, 2013

American Hustle - A Movie Review

'American Hustle' is a comedy-drama that is light-hearted while dealing with a heavy subject of an FBI investigation. Unlike Argo, this movie does not adopt the seriousness of the actual event - Abscam, the investigation that shook the US Congress in late '70s. The movie pivots on Irving and Sidney (amazingly played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams) who are con artists with a zest for life.But they have a problem - Irving's wife ,Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who is sometimes an air-headed housewife and other times an alcoholic.Sidney adopts a false identity with a British accent - Edith Greensly and increases Irving's business until she is caught by an FBI agent, "Richie" DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Richie releases her on the condition that they participate in a 'sting' operation in a corruption investigation.

Thus begins the roller-coaster ride - of greed, of deception, of women's power play over men and of insecurities. Amy Adams towers tall over Jennifer Lawrence playing the role of her career - sometimes seductive, other times frightened, as Sidney she simmers and seduces both the men - Irving and Richie.Switching easily between British and American accents, her character adds depth where it could easily have been one-dimensional.

Jennifer Lawrence, as Rosalyn, is a wild card.A loud paranoid,alcoholic,who happens to talk her mouth out. The scene where she asks the Mayor of Camden and her husband to smell her nails to see why she likes the smell 'so sweet yet rotten' captures her character. She speaks what is on her mind and is candid to admit that 'she does not like change'.

The rest of the story is how friendship evolves between Irving and Carmine, the Mayor of Camden, while Richie plots how to nab Carmine for corruption.

It was fun to see all those '70s styles-  Sidney with her hair in rollers at home, Rosalyn with those loose,bouncy curls and even Richie sporting several tiny rollers.

I like this movie way better than Silver Linings Playbook (directed by the same person,David O. Russell). It has style, glitz and glamor but beneath it all it has heart-warming depth of characters. The one note of caution I must mention is that it would have made Hitchcock, who said "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”, a very unhappy man. Over 2 hours, it calls for a better editing job. 

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