ByAlexander Diminiano, writer at
Film critic and cinephile. Written over 600 reviews at Cinemaniac Reviews since July of 2011:
Alexander Diminiano

"American Hustle," American classic.

"Hey Irving, I'm gonna have some fun. Maybe it'll be contagious." --Rosalind (Jennifer Lawrence)

Director David O. Russell has to thoroughly challenge himself to raise the bar higher than this. His newest movie “American Hustle” is nothing less than a masterpiece. We’re talking about a film that doesn’t have a boring moment. The tale holds a tenacious grip on its audience, and its likability is off to the races before that tale even begins. Most of the events in the movie come from the Abscam scandal, which occurred shortly after Watergate. But we aren’t told this is “based on a true story.” We’re told, ever so modestly, that “some of this actually happened.”

50% of “American Hustle” is equal parts inspired by “Casino”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, and “Jackie Brown”. The other half is an exuberant period piece. Kudos to those who rendered the makeup and costumes on our three lead performers—Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams. Replace the faces of today with the faces of Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, and this is a 70s movie. The music is even better, with cues that awesomely complement the great camerawork. And the music doesn’t just resemble the decade. What we have here is the most transformative 70s soundtrack since “Dazed and Confused”.

The movie is dynamically acted by its ensemble cast, but the major standouts are Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. They dominate the script as much as its writers—Eric Singer and David O. Russell, the film’s own director. This is his followup to “Silver Linings Playbook” with just as much humor and sentimentality. Except “American Hustle” works in ways that “Playbook” didn’t, because we’re never the least bit concerned with guessing what’ll happen next. The writing does come with its flaws, but only one I actually noticed. The characters’ stories seem to appear at random in the beginning. But, to reiterate, the whole thing has our attention. Even the weaker points in the movie are formidable.


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