American films love con artists and American Hustle is right up there with the best of them.
Christian Bale and Amy Adams play con artists making a good living until they are busted by an ambitious FBI agent, played by Bradley Cooper. He offers them a deal if they help him entrap corrupt politicians and nasty mobsters. They don’t have a lot of choice so go along, entrapping a local politician (Jeremy Renner), congressmen and even a senator in a scheme involving promises of Arab money for casinos in New Jersey. But they are dealing with dangerous people (Robert De Niro puts in a cameo as a frightening mobster) and Bale’s dimwitted blonde wife (Jennifer Lawrence in a very different role) might put the whole operation in jeoprady.
There is some excellent acting here. Bale, Adams, Cooper and Lawrence are especially good. Bale apparently put on 40 pounds and got his natural hair chopped to make his character more believable. Renner’s character doesn’t completely work, but the cast has several Golden Globe nominations and will probably win some, as will the picture itself. There are probably several Oscar nominations in the future too.
But nobody is really whom they seem to be at first. Almost everyone is trying to be someone they are not, or get somewhere else. None of them are very likable. Also, the story is not always easy to follow, but you’ll love the payoff in the end.
Rating: four deer out of five
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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.