It opens with a title card saying not the usual “Based on a true story”, “Inspired by real events” or whatnot, but “Some of this actually happened.” Gotta love that! It tells you that real life played a part in the writing of the screenplay, but ultimately, like all non-documentary movies, this is fiction. It takes certain liberties, it makes some shit up, it goes over the top and it’s all good!
Set in the late 1970s, “American Hustle” is about a couple of con artists (played by a fat and bald Christian Bale and a mucho sexy Amy Adams) who wind up being forced by a FBI agent (a curly-haired Bradley Cooper) to take part in a sting operation targeting various individuals, including a New Jersey mayor (a pompadoured Jeremy Renner).
It sounds simple enough, but the plot builds and builds and builds until you just don’t know how things will turn out. The way everything unfolds is clever and gripping enough, but the best thing about the film is how it has all these fascinating, colorful characters playing off each other. These are people who do what they can to survive and there is no really good guy in the bunch. It’s just a question of who has the upper hand and who will come out of this whole mess on top.
David O. Russell’s direction is very stylish and dynamic, it made me think of bit of the way Scorsese handled “GoodFellas”, down to the way voice-over narration from the various characters is used. The four aforementioned actors are awesome and the film also features winning performances from the likes of Louis CK, Robert De Niro (his cameo is simply riveting) as well as the hilarious Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s white trash wife. It adds up to what is certainly one of the best movies of the year.