Drama films

American Hustle Review – the hellzapoppin dark comedy that’s irresistibly watchable | Drama films


IIt’s not just any kind of fuss. The adjective “American” added to a word in a movie title always implies something with instant design classic status, beautifully interwoven with irony and modernity. There is no plausible equivalent in the UK. British Beauty, British Psycho and British History X look like 1950s movies starring Diana Dors, Richard Attenborough and John Profumo respectively. David O Russell’s dark comedy hellzapoppin ‘is ambitious bustle, sentimental bustle, romantic bustle. Perhaps Hollywood Hustle is the truest title. It’s a cheeky, edgy, irresistibly watchable film, full of edgy backtalk, pop-eyed tension and goofy hair: wigs, frizz and beards. The drama is loosely derived from a late 1970s true story of how FBI agents coerced a notorious New Jersey con artist into helping them trap corrupt politicians with the bribe offer. of a “fake sheikh”, a scam later refined by British red. the best newspapers. He mixes the sage-nostalgic voiceover of Scorsese’s Goodfellas with the cheeky sham of George Roy Hill’s The Sting. There is also something David Mamet in the head-to-head dialogue. But the neurotic, strident, and often very funny action is uniquely Russell-esque.

Four absurd characters embark on something like a dysfunctional four-way comedy routine, or maybe a tough atonal modern jazz quartet. These are people who hate, love and suspect each other; each is resigned to the possibility of being pushed around by fellow criminals, and each philosophically inclined to accept the idea that self-deception and self-agitation is what gets you through the day. Everyone often seems on the verge of screaming, like Gene Wilder deprived of his blue blanket in The Producers.

Christian Bale plays Irv Rosenfeld, a fat, ugly, self-pitying con artist with a comb; he embodies the Spinal Tap maxim on that fine line between smart and stupid. Very inclined to pontificate, he is like a venal and aggressive version of Woody Allen’s character in Broadway Danny Rose. Irv is married to the very nervous Rosalyn, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Irv calls his wife the “Picasso of Passive-Aggressive Karate,” a killer line for which co-writers Russell and Eric Singer deserve a special mini-Oscar.

Irv is, however, desperately in love with his mistress and crook colleague, the super sexy Sydney Prosser, played with a glow of pure self-defeating passion by Amy Adams; she puts on a fake British accent, calls herself “Lady Edith” and advertises her fake private banking contacts to trick people into paying Irv a non-refundable advisory fee to discuss the possibility of non-existent loans. Sydney is a sociopath and can’t quite bring herself to let go of the British accent – it fades into her real voice. Irv and Lady Edith are trapped by hyperactive Federal Agent Richie DiMaso, played by Bradley Cooper; he forces them to work for the government and also falls head over heels in love with Sydney, who plays with some cynical erotic languor, just in case she needs him at some point.

The bizarre and hilarious situation unfolds, never entirely deviated or derailed, with plenty of comedic backdrops. Richie is furious at his silly boss, played by Louis CK, who continues to tell him a simple anecdote about his childhood ice fishing trips; Richie interrupts them irritably when he thinks he understands the moral. It’s a running gag, punctuated by furious rows, and there’s even a psychotic flashback in which the two appear to be shooting guns at each other in a seedy bathroom. Did it really happen? Or just in Richie’s head?

There are also scenes of pure gangster sentimentality, accompanied by the Ray-Liotta gravel of Irv’s voiceover. He insists on taking Rosalyn to dinner for four with Mayor Carmine Polito and his wife in exactly the kind of steakhouse that was regularly torched for insurance at Goodfellas. The mayor, played with genius as a used car salesman by Jeremy Renner, sports another of the film’s outrageous hairstyles, a feather that defies gravity with as much urgency as the patterns under discussion.

Everything is slender and loose, with scenes that seem to be able to be cut and re-edited in all directions. It could easily be two or three times as long, and there is enormous pleasure in Russell’s sustained riffs. The Pressure Cooker simmers suppressed bubbles of madness continuously and more consistently than in its previous movie, Silver Linings Playbook, and more entertainingly than in a previous movie like I Heart Huckabees. And at the end of the day, you feel dizzy and disoriented, like brands that don’t know you’ve been fooled. This is the pure style of David O Russell.