Do the Hustle...no, not that one. The one where you con several congressmen and a senator into taking money on camera so that you, who previously only conned desperate, dirty people, can get off the hook and go back to living your split-life: conning and sleeping with your gorgeous girlfriend, then going home to your unpredictable wife and young son.
Before I saw American Hustle, I had no idea what it would be about. The preview pretty much just tells us "WE HAVE SUPERSTAR ACTORS AND A COOL SOUNDTRACK," giving little to nothing away about the plot, other than the ladies are sexy and the men not so much. Still, it worked to get my family and me to the theater to see what really happens--and we weren't disappointed.
Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a comb-over-sporting, beer-bellied con man who deals in loan scams. Amy Adams, as Lady Edith Greensley/Sydney Prosser, his assistant/girlfriend, works as his foil in the con world. Where he is moody and "reluctant" to take people's money, she flirts with and "coaches" the loan-seekers to "be more aggressive." Irving's wife Rosalyn, played by Jennifer Lawrence, doesn't know exactly what Irving does, but she isn't a fan. When FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches Edith in the act, arresting her, he offers a deal: help him catch four more (bigger) con men, and she's free to go.
To pull off their long con, Edith and Irving enlist the help of one of Irving's friends, who pretends to be a wealthy Arab Sheik looking for somewhere to invest. They also use FBI resources and Richie himself, who acts as an associate to the Sheik, and they do what they do best: make people believe what they want to believe. Several times, Rosalyn threatens to shut the whole operation down, and Edith/Sydney plays at her own con in creating a love triangle between her and the men.
Like its preview claims, American Hustle does have superstars and a cool soundtrack. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence own their performances, and just about steal the show from Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper. Louis C.K., Jeremy Renner, and Elizabeth Rohm shine in supporting roles. The improvisation of several key scenes attests to the skill of these actors, and makes the film into the character-driven film that it is. Funny and heartbreaking, this Hollywood glamorization of an actual story - the opening credits claim "Some of this actually happened" - makes for a great time at the movies.