Stacked Actors: American Hustle

By Alex Lally, ’14

“American Hustle” is easily one of the best films of 2013. The film, directed by David O. Russell, is a fictionalized retelling of the ABSCAM public corruption scandal in New Jersey in the late 1970s and features an all-star cast of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence. I had very high expectations for this film and had been waiting for it since last January, and though it was good, it was ultimately disappointing on some levels.

The cast is easily the highlight of the film. Everybody puts in perfect performances, from Cooper’s eccentric FBI agent, Richie DiMaso, to Bale’s wise guy con artist, Irving Rosenfeld. Adams and Lawrence were recognized for their stellar performances, each winning Golden Globes at Sunday night’s awards ceremony.

The film’s scenery is fabulous, with high production values and bright, glamorized visuals that really emphasize the 70s high life.

Despite all of these great qualities, my biggest problem is the plot of the film. While the film is centered on ABSCAM, Russell doesn’t hide the fact that this film isn’t completely historically accurate. At the beginning of the film it states “Some this actually happened.” This leaves very little plot development and focuses too much on just the characters. Sometimes it feels like they just placed these random 70s caricatures within a historical backdrop and ignored any real plot. This really ruins the film’s crime drama and instead leans more towards to a black comedy. The film, though, still garnered respect, winning the Golden Globe for Best Comedy.

Sadly, “American Hustle” suffers from a “style over substance” situation.The film may have great characters, but it’s lacking in plot and historical accuracy. It does give an interesting perspective of crime life in the 70s that really hasn’t been seen in film. If you’re expecting a docudrama, then this isn’t the film for you. 3 out of 4 stars.


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