American Hustle

By philoctates@gmail.com (Francis Levy)

2014-01-27-220pxAmerican_Hustle_2013_poster.jpg

Amy Adams’s breasts should be nominated for an Academy Award. Would that there were a category for best supporting (or in this case best unsupported) mammary? The character she plays, one Sydney Prosser from Albuquerque aka Lady Edith Greensley from London says at one point,

“My dream was to become anything else than I was.”

Reinvention is the theme of American Hustle, David O. Russell’s brilliant take on the American dream and it bears some resemblance to The Wolf of Wall Street in the way it uses the transformation of outer borough type personalities who rise through a roguish form of identity politics. After all what is America about but reinvention? Everything in the movie is a con and one could say that American history whether it’s the Louisiana Purchase or the purchase of Manhattan Island from the Indians by Peter Minuit for the equivalent of $24 is about getting over on someone. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) meets his match in Sydney/Edith and they are off to the races.

“We’re all conning ourselves one way or other to get through life,”

Irving tells his protégé, who would have been the perfect Galatea were she not the true agent the sophisticated persona she radiates.

“I created Edith since I needed to survive,”

Sylvia tells Rick DiMaso (Bradley Moore), the FBI agent who falls for her. The movie, which is partially based on the ABSCAM scandal in which convicted con artists were used to entrap a number of congressman and a senator, sports a number of iconic scenes of American life in the 70’s, a studio 54 type disco, an Italian restaurant in the still undeveloped Atlantic City, even the Chelsea Hotel. But there is one which tells it all. Irving has a legitimate business, a chain of dry cleaning establishments, whose unclaimed items act a kind backstage wardrobe. Pressing the conveyor belt, his eyes light up at the prospective guises. Even DiMaso and the US attorney who is running him are con artists and they in turned get conned. They look on in disbelief when they’re informed that

“You got conned by the very very conmen you forced to con in the first place.”

At one point during the movie Rick and Irving visit a museum and gaze up at a masterpiece which Irving knows is a fake.

“Who is the master? The painter or the forger?”

Irving asks. If an Oscar isn’t given out for breasts, there’s certainly one awarded for screenplays and gems like this definitely put American Hustle in the running.

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy’s blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture} …read more

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