Freestyle Staff Writer email@example.com David O. Russell's latest film, "American Hustle," is bold, brash and laugh-out-loud funny. The film leads with its humor, as it opens with a humorous title slide stating, "Some of this actually happened." The movie centers around a crook named Irving Rosenfeld (played by Christian Bale ), who embezzles money from needy investors. Upon meeting the vibrant Sydney Prosser ( Amy Adams ) at a pool party, an attraction sparks and the two team up. The beginning scenes read like those from your typical romance film - except for the fact that the lovers are a married conman and an ex-stripper. When an undercover FBI agent named Richard "Richie" DiMaso ( Bradley Cooper ) busts their operation, they agree to help him catch more con artists in return for their release. What ensues is a crazy rollercoaster of risk and intensity, filled with shifting loyalties, snappy dialogue and fabulous '70s hair. The movie is an incredible success for Russell, who assembled a cast of highly talented individuals who had worked with him before (Bale and Adams in "The Fighter" and Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"). Perhaps the brilliance of the directing can be credited to the fact that Russell took a step back and allowed the actors to take command. The loud, wild characters are the focal point of the film, and so the story revolves mainly around their interactions with each other and they move the plot forward. The camera shots and angles used reflect this, completely focused on the characters, with little attention placed on setting or extraneous detail. The film's greatness is derived from the emotional power and gravity of the characters' feelings and reactions. The performances in "The American Hustle" are exciting and gutsy, as are the characters. Rosenfeld, a seasoned conman with an expansive gut and exacting methods of extortion, meets his match in Prosser, and the chemistry between the two is practically tangible. The shameless passion they feel for each other and for their work is a stark contrast to the relationship between Rosenfeld and his wife, Rosalyn (Lawrence) . Rosalyn is demanding and powerful in her own right, although she's fairly unhinged. Lawrence plays her with the delicacy, tenacity and improvisation that her character requires, making the audience feel awed and afraid of her and the power she holds over the other characters. DiMaso begins as a calm and confident FBI agent, and slowly becomes more and more crazed and power hungry, spiraling out of control. Mayor Carmine Polito ( Jeremy Renner ) is another stand-out character - he firmly believes that the ends justify the means, and so he gets involved with Rosenfeld's shady dealings in order to do good for the people of his city. Overall, captivating performances by the ensemble make this film shine. The brilliance of the acting is mirrored by the excellence of the soundtrack and costuming. Danny Elfman handled the film's music, including classics from Duke Ellington , the Bee Gees, David Bowie , Tom Jones and Elton John . The songs fluidly carry the actors' emotions from scene to scene, creating the perfect backdrop and lending themselves to the atmosphere of the setting. Another factor that adds to the authenticity of the film's time period is the costumes. The cast members sport elaborate (and ridiculous) hairdos and ensembles - Bale is never seen without his glued-on hairpiece and Cooper wears his hair in tiny curlers in order to achieve the perfect perm. The men look smart in a variety of leisure suits and Ray-Bans, while the ladies dress to kill in sexy ensembles of tight-fitting dresses and disco suits. A sticking point for some viewers may be the film's R rating, which is well-deserved. Cursing abounds in this film and is heard out loud and mumbled throughout. Other than language, many of the costumes are revealing, there is a very brief scene with nudity and drugs are used on occasion. These elements play a minor role in the film, only used to enhance a moment or add another level to a character, rather than glorify or romanticize the infidelity, cursing or drug use shown. "American Hustle" is a triumph for all involved. Russell delivers another praiseworthy piece that is as poignant as it is humorous. Its clever dialogue, luxurious costuming, classic soundtrack and stellar cast make for an excellent movie. Expect plenty of Academy Awards to be given to this raucous '70s flick.
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