I remember when ABSCAM happened but my only memories are that some politicians were busted for taking bribes; it wasn’t a classified mission like the one in Argo. I wonder if the success of Argo helped American Hustle get the green light.
The two films happened at roughly the same time period but they are nothing alike; and that’s not a bad thing. American Hustle is a very funny film, yet it really isn’t a comedy. For the most part the actors play it straight, it’s just that they have enough personalitiy quirks to spare so it’s hard to take them seriously.
American Hustle is not the story of ABSCAM in any literal sense; that is why the first words on the screen are; ” Some of this actually happened.” From what I have read the original intention was to make a serious film but when director David O. Russell came on board he decided to change the names of the characters so that he could open up the story a bit and make it more comedic and less dependent on facts. I think it was a excellent plan. The actual events would make a good movie but I don’t know if it would make a great one.
Russell then proceeds to throw all of the 70s onto the screen. Some may say that the 70s threw up all over the screen, but it wasn’t all that bad. When a film is set in the 70s in seems like a good idea to go overboard with the set decoration, costumes, music, etc; American Hustle goes right up to the line without crossing over into parodyland. Then again, with these characters nothing would be too over the top. Two words: science oven.
A lot of the comedy comes from the fact that the characters take themselves so seriously. The opening scene shows Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) going through the overly elaborate process of applying his toupee. It goes on for quite a while, but the end result is worth it. It’s funny because Irving is fooling no one, yet he fools everyone because he is a con man.
Irving’s partner in crime is Sydney Prosser who is portrayed by Amy Adams whom, in the opinion of my friend and I, yes I have a friend, gives the best performance of her career. That’s saying something because she is never less than excellent.
The types of cons that Irving pulls requires Sydney to pretend to be an Englishwoman called Lady Edith Greensley. In fact she is so good that she even fools FBI agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper). Then again…
Minor spoilers ahead. I’ll give an all clear when they are over.
Richie isn’t stupid, yet he’s no Eliot Ness either. There is a great scene where he is discussing his fiancee who may or may not be his fiancee. Then there are his scenes with Louis CK who plays Di Maso’s boss; they are comedy gold. It’s worth the price of admission just for the ice fishing story.
What can I say about Jennifer Lawrence as Irving’s wife Rosalyn? She simply steals every scene she is in. I love the fact that she was the only one unafraid to talk to the mobsters. And there is another scene, you know which one if you have seen the film; I will never be able to hear that song the same way again.