Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Robert De Niro, Jack Huston,
Director: David O. Russell
Opening with an enigmatic disclaimer stating that "Some of this actually happened", American Hustle begins as most 1970s-set crime capers do, with a flurry of obvious wigs, polyester suits and iconic chart music from the period. Unusually for the genre, however, it quickly reveals itself as an intelligent and deceptively self-aware character piece, with New York conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his lover/partner (Amy Adams) forced into assisting the FBI as penance for a series of loan frauds.
Foregrounding the film's artificiality, writer/director David O Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) uses his A-list cast to create a kind of adult pantomime, in which allegiances switch constantly and no one is ever quite who they seem.
As is typical for a Hollywood movie, the two men - Bale and Bradley Cooper, as the FBI wild card - drive the story, but it is the women that provide the substance. Adams is terrific, playing Cooper off against Bale and vice versa, but Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as Bale's wife, a likeable ditz whose loose-lipped tendencies might at any minute instigate a bloodbath.
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