James Milstead’s review published on Letterboxd:
AMERICAN HUSTLE (15)
D: David O. Russell
Columbia/Annapurna/Atlas (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle & Megan Ellison)
USA 🇺🇸 2013
W: David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer
DP: Linus Sandgren
Ed: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers & Alan Baumgarten
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Judy Becker
Cos: Michael Wilkinson
Christian Bale (Irving Rosenfeld), Amy Adams (Sydney Prosser), Bradley Cooper (Richie DiMaso), Jeremy Renner (Carmine Polito), Jennifer Lawrence (Rosalyn Rosenfeld)
Some hustle as a way of life, some hustle for love, some hustle for respect, some hustle for truth, some hustle to survive.
American Hustle is a quintet of great performances, four of which are very special.
In this crime caper, Christian Bale (almost unrecognisable due to a bloated belly and questionable combover) is small-time grifter Irving Rosenfeld, who along with his mistress Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) con their way to a fair amount of cash until the Feds put the skids on their operation.
FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) then heads an operation, using their help, to entrap a group of politicians and senator who have ties to the mob, including well-intentioned mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) who is overseeing casino development in Atlantic City.
The only spanner in the works comes from Rosenfeld's ditzy bimbo wife, Rosslyn (a scene-stealing Jennifer Lawrence).
The plot sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is and aside from an opening sequence which comes from the middle of the narrative, it's a very simple story to follow, even though you're constantly wondering who's playing who.
Director David O. Russell captures the early 1970's period brilliantly, with perfect set decor, costumes, makeup & hairstyling and as I touched on earlier, the performances are brilliant. Jennifer Lawrence won a handful of awards for supporting actress but Amy Adams also deserved a share of the spoils in the lead actress category. Robert DeNiro also pops up in a fine cameo as a mobster.
It's almost unbelievable that this film was nominated for 10 Oscars and left the ceremony empty-handed. Any other year this would have scooped quite a few awards, perhaps even Best Picture. I certainly wouldn't have begrudged it.