Sunday, January 19, 2014

American Hustle- A Timeless Tale

The Poster for American Hustle, David O. Russell film,, fair use claimed

Greetings All:

ast night, Dawn and I saw the movie, American Hustle.  It’s the “hot” new film and I can see why.  It is great.  Before I go on with this blog- SPOILER ALERT, I will discuss the film and give a few things away.  If you have not seen the film, and would like to, please stop reading now.

OK, my conscious is now clear.  Here’s my take on this super movie.  It is a good bit of entertainment, loosely built around the Abscam scandal of the late 70s/early 80s.  Although the movie is not factually accurate 100%, it’s great entertainment.  The three central characters are an uber-ambitious FBI agent and two con artists who are forced to work with the Feds.  The supporting cast come off the bench and hit 3-point shots with Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner and others.  I would be remiss not to add it’s a GREAT soundtrack.  I did something I have not done in years and purchased it (thank you iTunes.)  There is a nice mix of different stuff, including some killer ELO songs.  My personal favorite is Mayssa Karaa’s haunting remake of “White Rabbit.” 

And for good measure, it’s got a cameo from Robert De Niro.  Now, please, tell me what more could you want?  The movie is cleaning up in the pre-Oscar awards and it’s probably even money for it to be the best picture at the Academy Awards.

As I am working on keeping my blog posts shorter, I am electing to focus on what I see as one of the strongest parts of the film, the theme of unhappiness or more precisely, the pursuit of unobtainable happiness.

Bradley Cooper’s character of Richie DiMaso, the driven FBI agent is Exhibit A of this point.  He’s so driven to bust the bad guys he goes to pretty crazy lengths to keep the investigation going, including beating up his boss with a telephone.  For a while, the method to his madness is working.  For a while…

Exhibit B is Christian Bale’s character, Irving Rosenfeld.  Here’s a guy by his own admission does what he has to do, “…to survive.”  He’s hooked up with the very talented and beautiful Amy Adams, a/k/a Syndey Prosser a/k/a Lady Edith Greensley.  The only problem with this arrangement is he’s married.  That would be Roslyn, Jennifer Lawrence’s character.  Aside from being forced to work for Richie, his “other wife,” Ros is a handful.  He wants a divorce, she doesn’t.  Throw in her kid, Danny (whom Irving adapted, perhaps the only noble thing he’d done in his life) and Irving’s got himself a situation.  There is a scene where he watches a Mobster putting the moves on Ros and without saying a word he gives a monologue full of pain.  Even through his (presumably) Foster Grant glasses, his eyes display his agony. 

This is just one example of how all the characters binge drink from a cocktail of equal parts guilt and grief.  Unfortunately for them, it’s an open bar.

All of the characters are looking for something.  For Ritchie, it’s the bust.  He’s going to bag some big game and get credit for it.  For Irving and Sydney, they are looking for the exits.  For Ros, she’s looking for an instruction manual for life.  Still, she finds her own way.  I understand why Ms. Lawrence one the Golden Globe for this role. 

There are no real winners in this film and a lot of losers.  A few do survive.  As far as happiness, well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.  At the end of the day, it’s a movie.  It is entertainment.  However, I wonder if the reason we can take away life lessons from entertainment is that we’re not expecting to learn anything.  It just creeps up on us.  Kinda like the ending of this movie.  Oh, and a great soundtrack doesn’t hurt either. 

Be well my friends,


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