"Hustle" flows well

David O. Russell’s latest film offers excellent entertainment

“American Hustle” is all about the thrills: the show, the fireworks — the hustle. As a loose adaptation of the early 80s ABSCAM operation, the film showcases cons and feds playing dress up for congressmen, investors and, at one point, the mob. Everyone is vulnerable, and everyone gets taken for a ride. Hell, the film itself attempts to hustle its audience to some extent. As an opening slide tells us: “Some of this actually happened.”

What’s really going on in “Hustle” is all inside the mind of director David O. Russell.

Hot off his last hits “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Fighter,” Russell brings life to the film with his invasive camera maneuvers and two-minute combover takes. You can feel his touch throughout, focusing audiences in on the little details that make his characters the broken individuals you see onscreen.

Working with a script that appears largely more interested in what happened between these characters than staying faithful to the real life story, Russell is supported by a spectacular acting ensemble.

Christian Bale, dynamic as ever, plays the streetsmart Irving Rosenfeld, packing depth into a character who cons for a living. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as usual as Irving’s wife Rosalyn, sharing one of the film’s tensest scenes with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Add in Bradley Cooper as Richie DiMaso, Jeremy Renner as the do-gooder politician Carmine Polito, Louis C.K., and a cameo to die for, and the result is one of the best films of the year.

In one scene, Rosalyn flutters her polished red fingernails around the dinner table, asking everyone to take notice of the garbage-like smell the prime nail polish gives off. It’s the same stench that permeates throughout the exaggerated style of the movie — and it’s wonderful. Go see it, and let it sweep you off your feet.

Published January 15, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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