American Hustle (2013)

You’ve no doubt heard the hype. It’s all over the awards ceremonies like Christian Bale on a film role he has to change his weight for.

Loosely based on the real life ‘ABSCAM’ of the 1970’s, American Hustle tells a story of fakery and perception, questioning why we think we know what we do about people, and just where a lie ends.

Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) is a conman who falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and the pair work together, aided by Sydney’s persona, the English Lady Edith. They are caught mid scam by FBI agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) and are forced to avoid incarceration by helping him make more arrests, catching politicians taking bribes. But with a wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and son at home for Irving and a growing attraction between Sydney and Richie, layered lies are in increasing trouble of toppling over.

A stellar cast, a killer soundtrack and beautiful performances from Adams and Lawrence all make this film more of an experience than a viewing. The audience is taken along for the ride, where nothing seems real and probably nothing is. It’s got moments that feel like snapshots of pure life (most of which involve dancing) and flicks between a hustle film and a gangster movie, even sporting Robert De Niro as a mob boss. While this hard to pin down style might feel annoying to some, the more I think about it the more it seems apt. As an audience we don’t know what’s real, who’s lying and who’s conning who – we buy into the lie as much as the characters on screen do. And while this might mean we leave the film feeling like we’ve missed out somewhere (and don’t care about the characters as much as in David O. Russell’s last, Silver Linings Playbook) it doesn’t diminish the films intelligent attempt at taking on lies and trickery in the very form that is made up of them.

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