Oh those ultra-slick late-1970s -- from the shiny polyester outfits to the disco songs, from the sleazier characters to the post-Watergate political corruptions, David O. Russell nails this vibe in the electrifying "American Hustle."
One of the best films of the year, it takes on the Abscam FBI sting with such vivid characterizations and a crackling energy that you are exhilarated by watching this wild ride. The minute the film is over, you want to watch it again. The con artists are so clever and the performances so big, this distinctive comedy has much to dissect.
Bradley Cooper is out-of-control FBI agent Richie DiMaso, looking for a big bang, who enlists a super-conniving couple -- Christian Bale and Amy Adams as Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prossner -- to entrap mobsters, New Jersey politicians and Congressmen.
Corraling talent from his previous smash hits "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings Playlist," Russell has inspired new highs from the best ensemble of the year. Gaining about 50 pounds to play the wily Irv, Christian Bale adds another indelible character to his remarkable body of work.
In a change of pace, the lovely Amy Adams gets naughty as a woman wanting a luxurious life, and her rival, Irv's manic wife Rosalyn, is played with much zest by Jennifer Lawrence.
Cooper is on fire as the nutty agent, and the dueling between his superiors and the con artists is masterful.
The supporting cast is tremendous too -- especially Jeremy Renner as Camden mayor Carmine Polito, Michael Pena as the fake sheik, and Louis C.K. as Ritchie's put-upon boss.
From the opening scene of Bale's hysterically funny elaborate comb-over, fasten your seat belt because you are in for quite a story -- a mishmash of truth and fiction. The film's a dizzying blend of hyper-kinetic dialogue, whip-smart acting and spot-on production values. The catchy soundtrack accentuates a flashy time.
This is a fun, enjoyable experience that emphasizes our love of movies, and also indicates what an ugly era in fashion and decor. This film is worthy of all the awards and nominations ready to come its way.
What Doesn't Work
This unbelievable story has so many twists that you might lose your way while following it, but it's worth going on this singular journey.
Four stars out of 4
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner
Director: David O. Russell
Rated: R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence