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‘American Hustle’ delivers Oscar worthy performances

| Thursday, January 16, 2014

AmericanHustle_WEBSTEPH WULZ | The Observer

Winner of three Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, David O’Russell’s “American Hustle” is already poised to take the award season by storm. Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, the film is full of noteworthy performances.

Bale stars as con man Irving Rosenfeld, who works with Sydney Prosser (Adams) in an elaborate ponzi scheme. Sydney assumes the identity of a glamorous Brit with connections, Lady Edith Greensley, and the two use her fake status to take fees from people who can’t receive loans elsewhere. It’s all done under the pretense of finding investors who will give them money (though they are already well aware they will never make them any cash). When FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) catches them, the couple is forced to work alongside the government — leading them into a world of politics and the Mafia for which neither was prepared.

Their foray into these realms is further complicated by the presence of Irving’s seemingly unstable wife (Lawrence). Her antics provide much of the comedy in the film while also complicating the life of her husband as he attempts to get himself and his mistress out of legal trouble.

The film is loosely based on the FBI sting operation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, ABSCAM, though much of the film’s events are pure invention.

Without any background knowledge, this is a film that will make more sense upon second viewing. The events are complicated and at times, the movie seems to have so many different possible outcomes, it’s impossible to keep track.

That being said, the actors give an incredible performance. Specifically, both female actors give standout performances. Both were honored with a Golden Globe and certainly deserved it.

Lawrence was particularly memorable in her role. In one of the funniest and most memorable scenes, she dances wildly to Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” after messing up yet another important moment for her husband.

Adams plays the part of Sydeny Prosser and her fake identity seamlessly. As Irving’s mistress and partner-in-crime, Adams doesn’t miss a beat. After Irving and Sydney’s arrest, it is never clear whether Adam’s character has sided against Irving or if she is still working to get them out of the sticky situation. It is not until the final resolution that her character makes any sense at all — and therein lies her brilliance.

While slightly outshone by their female counterparts, both Bale and Cooper deliver outstanding performances. One is never quite sure whether to pity Agent DiMaso for his naïveté or pray that his stupidity is punished — an impulse almost always inversely related to how one feels about Bale’s character, Irving, at the moment. Agent DiMaso and Irving do well to foil each other and they seesaw between being the good guy and the bad guy.

Bale’s character is conflicting from the moment he enters the screen. The audience shouldn’t like the con man who consistently cheats on his wife and yet, Bale creates a sympathetic and somewhat endearing character whom one doesn’t really want to see lose it all.

From the very beginning, “American Hustle” captivates its audience, switching between the vague hilarity and the sobering gravity of the situation. It is certainly worth watching and will remain one of the favorites as the Oscars approach.

Contact Caelin Miltko at cmoriari@nd.edu

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin