(US - 2013)
Directed by David O. Russell. Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell. Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pena, Shea Whigham, Alessandro Nivola, Elisabeth Rohm, Paul Herman, Colleen Camp, Anthony Zerbe, Barry Primus, Said Taghmaoui. (R, 138 mins)
In his "fictionalized" chronicle of the late 1970s ABSCAM scandal, director David O. Russell wears his love of Martin Scorsese on his sleeve, shooting much of the film in that same propulsive, electrifying style that's made GOODFELLAS one of the great American movies. Imitating Scorsese is nothing new, but the trick is to not let the hero worship trump everything else. Paul Thomas Anderson got that with BOOGIE NIGHTS and Russell accomplishes it here. Working with screenwriter Eric Warren Singer (who wrote Tom Tykwer's underrated THE INTERNATIONAL), Russell reassembles most of the main actors from his last two films (2010's THE FIGHTER and 2012's SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK), changes the names of the principles involved in the scandal, and creates one of the most vividly compelling films of 2013: it's suspenseful, hilarious, brilliantly-acted, filled with rich characters, bad fashions and horrible hair, and mostly succeeds in capturing the period, except for one major gaffe where a character mentions reading Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention, which wasn't published until 2004. Oops.
"Long Black Road," a new song from ELO leader Jeff Lynne, plus Lawrence shrieking Wings' "Live and Let Die" while cleaning the house in a blind rage. AMERICAN HUSTLE, which was conceived under the title AMERICAN BULLSHIT, is hypnotically, relentlessly fast-paced entertainment that hooks you in from the first grainy shot of the 1970s Columbia Pictures logo and never lets go. One of 2013's very best films.