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Movie review by Rashid Irani: American Hustle is smart, stylish and funny

  • Rashid Irani, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2014 17:12 IST

American Hustle
Direction: David O Russell
Actors: Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Rating: ****1/2

Smart, stylish and fabulously funny, American Hustle consolidates David O Russell’s reputation as a maverick filmmaker. After tackling a genre-bending heist caper (Three Kings, 1999), rowdy boxing drama (The Fighter, 2010) and quirky romantic comedy (Silver Linings Playbook, 2012), the director’s seventh feature is a marvelous mosaic of 1970s Americana.

The plot could easily have been mistaken as an outrageous invention had not an opening title card clarified that, “some of this actually happened”.

Always a savvy storyteller, Russell brings a darkly comic tone to the narrative involving, among other things, money, sex, political corruption and family dynamics.

It is loosely based on a real-life FBI sting operation. He (Batman star Bale, gaining 40 pounds for the role) is a beer-bellied owner of a New Jersey dry cleaning firm. His real business, however, is fleecing gullible investors. His partner in love and crime is a former stripper now posing as a British aristocrat (a cleavage-baring Adams). Their scams unravel when their latest client turns out to be a cocky federal agent (Bradley Cooper).

To further thicken the plot, an altruistic mayor (Jeremy Renner, doing his best Elvis Presley, impersonation) and the scamster’s crafty wife (Jennifer Lawrence) are thrown into the mix.

The film has already snagged several Golden Globe awards. Will the Oscars follow suit?

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