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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let's Do the Hustle

The snob in me had to eat a piece of humble pie after I sat through and thoroughly enjoyed American Hustle. It was definitely not on my to-watch list, but my friend wanted to watch it and since we had decided to spend the Saturday afternoon together, lazing around, I decided to download it and watch it with her. I am so glad that I did.

The four characters – Irving, Sydney, Richie and Rosalyn could not have been more different from each other. I guess that is one reason why the movie is such a raging success. Remember all those crime-drama movies from the 90s? Well American Hustle treads along those lines lightly with a lot of dark humour attached to it. Notice my use of ‘a lot’ because it might seem at times that the comedy is over the top, but remember, it is all intentional. David O. Russell wanted it to be full of the unbelievingly preposterous characters, with wild hairdos (courtesy pink hair curlers. Sorry I just had to mention that), shiny and flashy gowns, extravagant suits and extremely plunging necklines (especially for Amy Adams). The film captured the excesses of the era magnificently.


The movie is lightly based on the FBI ABSCAM operation in the 1980s. Irving Rosenfeld played by Christian Bale and Sydney Prosser played by Amy Adams are con artists, duping people into investing in a Ponzi scheme. However they get caught by the FBI and are forced by Agent Richie DiMaso played by Bradley Cooper to continue with the scam in a bid to arrest corrupt politicians.  DiMaso wants glory for himself by catching all the proverbial ‘big fishes’ in the pond and will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants. He will let nothing sway him from his goal, not even his superior.  When his superior rejects his plan, he assaults him with a telephone! Yeah, that was not a pretty sight and in spite of the violence, there was a particular lightness in the scene. Jennifer Lawrence plays Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Irving’s bored-at-home, unpredictable wife who refuses to heed to any instructions. For example she blatantly ignores the instruction of not putting metal in the microwave, which she calls the ‘science oven’ and the result? The brand new microwave catches fire and almost burns the house down.

From the very outset, it seemed that these four characters went about in four different directions with a four way comedy sequence, but with one goal in mind. In fact there are times when it seems that the film is a little too farcical, but then you remind yourself of the idiosyncratic ways of human behavior and make peace with the fact that Russell’s intention is to make something that is lighter in vein. There is an air of suppressed madness throughout. This is a difficult task because he walks along the lines of Scorsese’s Goodfellas with his subject, yet manages to keep the tone of narration playful.

Christian Bale makes his presence felt yet again. He gained 50 pounds to play the pot-bellied, balding Irving Rosenfeld and he does not try for laughs, he is in control throughout, just like he is in control of his hair-piece.  Well almost in control of his hair piece.  Here is an actor who would lose weight drastically for roles like Trevor Reznik and then gain weight to portray Irving Rosenfeld; such is the commitment of Christian Bale. As for Jennifer Lawrence, I think she just carried the ‘crazy’ right over from Silver Linings Playbook to American Hustle. With her piled up, golden locks, red lips, she swiftly shifts tones – from teasing to being angry to a vindictive bitch (apologies for the use of course language) when fighting for Irving’s affection with Sydney. And give that woman an Oscar!! Amy Adams deserves it! It’s getting a little difficult, just like it got difficult watching Kate Winslet every year go home empty handed.  Good thing that the Oscars are just right the corner! I am not going to mention Bradley Cooper at all in spite of his Oscar nomination for the role, because I don’t like him. The movie left me a little giddy and I ended up with a big wide grin on my face after the screen went black.

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