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Movie review: American Hustle

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***½ American Hustle (December 2013) – Theatre

American Hustle posterChristian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper. Set in the 1970s, it tells of a couple of scam artists who, following an arrest, make a deal with an FBI agent to help lure other white collar criminals. The agent’s eagerness for bigger targets—politicians, the mafia—puts everyone at risk.

She says: I knew this was set in the 1970s and was supposed to be really good, but didn’t go in with a very clear picture what it was actually about. It starts with Christian Bale as Irving forming a romantic and business partnership with Sydney, played by Amy Adams. Their scheme involves charging fees for pretending to try to get loans for high-risk clients. All is going swimmingly until Sydney, now calling herself Edith and pretending to be British, is arrested by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). He offers them an immunity deal in return for using their skills to capture other white collar criminals.

But that’s just the first half hour or so. More and more characters and complications come into play as the movie proceeds: Irving’s wife (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and son, the governor of New Jersey (Jeremy Remmer), Bradley’s boss (Louis C.K.), and so on. Despite their numbers, the characters are all vibrant and compelling, and it’s not always clear who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy. Despite the somewhat dark subject matter, it’s definitely all played on the lighter, more absurd side; the movie is really funny at times. But it still feels grounded in something that could have happened, and you do care what happens to these people.

It demands your attention, but it is indeed a good movie.

He says: That was too much plot for my cold medication-addled brain.

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