American Hustle

Director: David O. Russell (2014)

This brilliantly acted sleazy and greasy 1970s caper crackles with sexual tension like a cheap nylon suit.

The stellar cast consisting of three Oscar winners (Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro) and three nominees (Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams) is on excellent form in this slick, funny and dynamic crime comedy.

The fine performances combine with aggressive camera work, expert editing, a brilliant soundtrack and freaky 1970’s fashions to amp up an electric atmosphere ever higher.

Bale has rarely had so much fun with a role. He plays the balding, bearded, paunchy Irving Rosenfeld, a conman way out of his depth trapped between the mob and the FBI.

Rosenfeld and his mistress and partner in crime Sydney Prosser (Adams) are arrested by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) and compelled to assist him in cleaning up corruption in the new Atlantic City casino development.

The investigation expands to include expensive hotel suites, video surveillance, $2million in a suitcase and a Mexican who is posing as a fake sheikh.

The operation is threatened by Rosenfeld’s loose-lipped, loose-cannon of a wife Rosalyn – a dynamite performance by Lawrence.

They target passionate Carmine Polito (Renner), a corrupt mayor who is plagued by divided loyalties.

Russell even manages to squeeze a decent performance out of Robert DeNiro – something we haven’t seen for while.

Every character is forced to manipulate, lie, cheat and re-invent themselves as allegiances shift and con is built upon con but it’s not really interested in the plot as much as enjoying throwing the characters together and twisting the audience around it’s finger.

Deep down it’s also a critique of the film industry and of society’s cynical surrender to the power of capitalism – but don’t let that stop your enjoying the relentless ride as the toe-curling tension increases.

The scam continues to the very last line of the film.

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