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Students on Film, 'American Hustle': One man's struggle, another man's hustle

<p>AP Photo/Sony - Columbia Pictures, Francois Duhamel</p>

AP Photo/Sony - Columbia Pictures, Francois Duhamel


Meg’s Tip: A wad of cash for a bundle of entertainment.

“American Hustle,” David O. Russell’s newest film, which opened on Dec. 13, takes audiences into a world where everything appears full of glitz and glam and shines like gold. Like reading about a spotlight-obsessed celebrity in a tabloid, it will be easy for audiences to lose themselves.
 
From the props to the set to the casting of Hollywood’s heavy weights, “American Hustle” hooks you quickly and asks: Can everything you’ve dreamed become a reality?
 
The film is entertaining from a storyline standpoint and feels authentic in generating a sense of nostalgia in audiences. It also exposes the sketchy underbelly of obtaining a luxurious dream world as a reality.
 
The film begins in 1978 New York and is based upon one of the greatest hustling schemes to ever rock the U.S.
 
In the hotel suite’s mirror, attention falls upon Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) trying to fix his comb-over. It’s not only a funny sight, but also gives viewers the first inkling of insight into this man’s mind.
 
Irving spends his days conning desperate individuals into giving up their only means of survival, but in fact, he’s a con man that is ultimately conning himself.
 
Irving’s wife, Rosalyn, played by Jennifer Lawrence, goes to extreme lengths to keep her marriage intact. Like her husband, Rosalyn also cons herself by keeping Irving in the picture. By refusing to own up to reality and stand on her two feet, Rosalyn becomes depressed despite how ditsy and full of life she can be.
 
With that said, Irving starts having an affair with a woman whom he feels he can truly be himself around. Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams, is shown the better things in life and Irving hides the truth from her behind his wealth.
 
Sydney longs to be Irving’s everything. She knows that this can never be reality as long as he stays stuck under Rosalyn’s thumb. She tries to get Irving to see how his wife is conning him into thinking that divorce is not an option.
 
Seeing how cunning yet passionate Sydney can be, Irving decides to be truthful with her. He reveals the man he really is and how he maintains his lavish lifestyle. Then, he offers her a part in his hustling scheme and she accepts out of necessity.
 
Along the way, Irving and Sydney come across the third member of their scheme, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and his introduction alters the tone of the film.
 
Sydney and Richie seem to click with each right away. Meanwhile, Irving dislikes the display of camaraderie between his partners. Their money-making plan of hustling unsuspecting strangers gives way to a game of the three schemers trying to out-con one-another.
 
As a whole, “American Hustle” is full of crime and corruption, but it is not overdone or used poorly either. The timing of scenes and action are meticulously placed and who can get bored with Cooper’s Richie dancing the disco with Adams’s Sydney?
 
Bale, in particular, stands out in his portrayal of Irving. He uses the flashiness in the style of his character to soar to new heights. He makes you believe that he has been transported to the 1970s as a New York hustler. If there were a manual on how to become a hustler, he would be on the front cover.
 
He offers a different perspective to view the star that played Batman in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. He is no longer the dark, brooding masked man of crime stopping. Instead, Bale becomes a ruthless, tightlipped hustler looking for his big break.
 
Along with that, the 1970s costumes, furniture and props do not overshadow or disrupt the performances but enhance the film as a whole.
 
The story’s main characters were excellently cast in Bale, Cooper, Lawrence, and Adams. These big name actors among a few other notables filled their roles and had done more than just huddle over space on a payroll. Individually, their performances were spectacular, but as a group there are no words that can come close to summing up how solid their efforts were.
 
No matter how close or far you are from living the dream, there is no need to worry about “American Hustle” delivering.  While the characters work to out-con each other, the film satisfies with honest drama.

Megann Horstead is the North Central College Chronicle's social media editor. 

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