The year is 1978. The viewer is told right off “Some of this actually happened.” That is true because the film is a fictionalized version of what is referred to as the Abscam sting operation that occurred in the early 80’s which put six congressmen and one senator in prison for bribery and conspiracy. “American Hustle” is highly entertaining and features a brilliant cast.
Christian Bale is cast as Irving Rosenfeld who owns a legitimate dry-cleaning business but is an art forger and a loan shark on the side. His fortunes rise when he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who connects with Irving to improve his illegal businesses by posing as British Lady Edith Greensly who supposedly has close connections with London banking institutions.
Irving falls for Sydney although he loves his wife Rosalyn Jennifer Lawrence) who has a strong hold on him because of Irving’s love for Rosalyn’s child Danny, Irving’s step-child. Rosalyn is liable to blow the lid on their entire operation when she learns of Irving’s feelings for Sydney.
When FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) uncovers their scam, he forces them to be part of a sting operation involving, for one, the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner) who is intent on raising funds to revitalize the Atlantic City gambling circuit.
Some of the comedic aspects of the film show Irving donning an ill-fitting hairpiece. Also, Richie is shown at home with his hair in pink curlers. The viewer is thus reminded that this film is possibly a spoof.
Irving and Sydney concoct a plan to help the FBI by bringing in a fake sheikh who can possibly provide funding for the Mayor’s gambling project. A cameo by Robert De Niro, playing a mobster henchman almost derails the fakery when he speaks Arabic to the sheikh who supposedly has no knowledge of the language. The viewer is surprised to feel suspense and fear that the game might be up. But no, this second sheikh brought in is able to converse with the mobster.
“American Hustle” cannot be defined by genre since it is a crime film laced with comedy and drama. The film is brought to a happy but dull ending but nevertheless was a huge financial success due to heavy advertising of its talented cast and convoluted plot. It was nominated for an Academy Award in ten categories, but had no winners, even though it is apparently loved by the American public.
American Hustle (2013)