Christian Bale

Christian Bale

Reel Reviews: Film hustles its way to the top

Taylor and Howe say, American Hustle is one of the best films of the year.

  • Jan. 3, 2014 7:00 p.m.

Con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) collects deposits on loans his customers will never get and sells fraudulent art. When he partners and falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who has fake ties to banks in England, he’s finally able to provide the upward mobility his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and her son deserve.

Unfortunately for everyone, a determined and possibly crazed FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), busts the con artists and forces them to entrap local mafia and politicians with bribes and illegal contracts to rebuild the crumbling 1979 Atlantic City.

Among those marks is the mayor of Camden, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).

We say, “American Hustle is one of the best films of the year.”

HOWE: I thoroughly enjoyed American Hustle.  Throughout the movie, it is narrated by Adam’s and Bale’s characters, which I liked. It gave a bit more information about each of the characters, what was going on and added a nice flow to the movie. I know Mr. Taylor thinks narration is cheating, but I don’t care.

TAYLOR: People are down on this movie for being a Goodfellas replica. It does involve American bad guys in 1979. It is also a story that gets told through the eyes of the characters living it, providing the audience with a relevant point of view, making us sympathetic. These con artists, cops and corrupt politicians are ordinary people. They want to provide some sort of service to their communities. They love their kids, their wives, and their mistresses.

American Hustle owes a lot to Martin Scorsese, in terms of style and format, but I fail to see the problem. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the sociological and political differences between the films are enough to put Hustle in a category of its own.

As Rosenfeld himself says, “there is no black or white, only extreme grey.” This greyness is really what American Hustle is all about.

HOWE: We all know what a great cast is involved in Hustle, but the one stand out for me was Renner. All I have seen him in is action movies. This time out he had to act and I thought he did an excellent job portraying Mayor Polito.

Small things in films are what take them from being good to great. For example, the costume design and the amazing soundtrack give a real ‘70s feel to this movie.

TAYLOR: It’s the performances that cement this character driven film into my top five list of 2013.

Christian Bale is channelling Robert DeNiro, who makes an appearance in his fifth film this year. (On set, DeNiro didn’t recognize Bale in costume. He had to be re-introduced.) Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence deliver solid performances, although Adams has the bulk of the work, being a character pretending to be someone else. Both Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner prove that they are serious actors, deserving respect, which surprised me, at least in the case of Renner. I also must mention an extremely satisfying performance was elicited from comedian Louis C.K. who played DiMaso’s browbeaten FBI superior.

– Taylor gives American Hustle 4.5 loopholes out of 5.

– Howe gives it 4.5 science ovens out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C.