Just been watching…(34)

American Hustle (2013)

***No spoliers***

I had this film stored on the PVR for ages, and just remembered it last night. Released to mainly rave reviews four years ago, this period (1970s) black comedy concerns the activities of some small-time fraudsters in America. Christian Bale and Amy Adams play Irving and Sydney, successful con artists, who are also lovers. During one routine operation, they are caught out by the ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso, (Bradley Cooper) who immediately sees a way to use the hapless duo to further his own career.

He embroils them in a major sting operation, intended to bring down a series of corrupt politicians, and Mafia bigwigs. These include a New Jersey mayor, (Jeremy Renner) and a Mafia hard-man. (A nice cameo from Robert De Niro) Irving is out of his depth. Overweight, suffering from heart problems, sporting a terrible comb-over hairstyle, and caught between his affection for Sydney, and his flaky wife Rosalyn, (Jennifer Lawrence) his whole world starts to unravel. Meanwhile, Richie is facing resistance from his bosses, as his demands for the operation spiral out of control, and he finds himself falling for the charms of Sydney too.

With no spoilers, that’s about it. So, what else? A lot else, actually.

This film is based on real events, with the names changed. It is so well rendered in period, that at times it feels not only like it is set in the 1970s, but was actually made back then too. Bale is amazing as Irving. Getting fat, stressed-out, calling upon all his talents as a con-artist to survive. Amy Adams convinces completely as the sexy sidekick, attracting admiring glances from all around, the perfect diversionary tactic. Yet her loyalty to Irving is never in doubt.

Cooper gets it all right as the obnoxious FBI agent; using curlers in his hair, treating his mother and fiance appallingly, and prepared to step on anyone to get his operation approved. He is impossible to like, and we are not meant to. Jeremey Renner, sporting an incredible Roy Orbison hairstyle, has a good stab at being the misunderstood mayor, just trying to do the best for his people. This was sold as a black comedy, but it has some moments of fine drama. Many moments, in fact. Throw in Lawrence’s portrayal of the wife, De Niro’s coldly terrifying gangster, and you have it all. It’s a really satisfying old-school con-men drama, with an equally satisfying conclusion.
And the soundtrack of contemporary songs is just right too.

It’s not ‘Nine Queens’, but it is very good indeed.


27 thoughts on “Just been watching…(34)

  1. I have two excellent movies in which Robert De Niro appears: “Ronin” and “Brazil.” In the wake of his recent political rants, which were quite shameful, I am reluctant to watch him now. I normally separate the actor from the political activist, but he went a bit too far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t watch his rants, David. Ever since Mel Gibson, I have tried to avoid actors being ‘political’. You might like this film though. It is very much your era, and his part in it is just a cameo.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Olga. As ‘con’ films go, I prefer House of Games and the original Nine Queens of course. However, the flawless period detail in this film just drew me in. I will enjoy your review, I have no doubt. (Cold and grey here, typical bank holiday!)
      Best wishes, Pete.


    2. Just read your excellent review, and I now have to seek out The Spanish Prisoner. Despite the Mamet connection, I avoided this film, as I cannot stand Steve Martin. However, I will stifle my dislike of the man, and get a copy. (I will buy a used one, as it is expensive new on Amazon…)
      Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Most definitely going to watch this one, maybe when FR is over, now there is a thought.
    Talking of Americans, we have just started to watch The Americans, much enjoyed the first three episodes and Malinas bedtime is more strictly adhered to in the hope we may get an episode before our own sleepy time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the Americans. The first two series were on ITV, and I followed it religiously. Then it went off mainstream TV, onto cable/satellite, and I can’t watch it anymore.
      Glad you and FR got the trip sorted. I reckon she will do a great job with your photos.
      Cheers mate, Pete.


  3. I love this movie! Mostly since it is set in an era that fascinates me to study, but it’s also got some of my favourite big names in acting. I saw it a few months after watching Cooper and Lawrence co-star in Sliver Linings Playbook, and I’m constantly amazed at their wide scope of abilities and different characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had fun within this film. The sometimes outrageous nature made it a good hoot, tempered with some genuine drama. A very fine ensemble of actors, loved Amy Adams as the sexy temptress who is never really on anyone’s side.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I need to watch more movies…I spend so much time buried in books and reports that I forget they are out there…LOL I do watch series on Netflix and Hulu but only 4 episode at a time then back to the books…..damn that sounds boring…LOL chuq

    Liked by 1 person

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