A superb fabrication of what led to the Abscam scandal in 1978, this 2014 Golden Globe Award Winning film begins with text, “Some of this actually happened”. For those of you either too young or too old to remember Abscam, the federal government indicted a number of New Jersey politicians, including 6 Congressmen and a Senator (Harrison Williams), who received bribes from an individual posing as an Arab Sheik seeking an Atlantic City gambling license. The story begins shortly after casinos were legalized in New Jersey. While American Hustle is a tale from the perspective of the con, part of its delight is the backstory, portrayed by an excellent ensemble cast including Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, con man extraordinare. Jennifer Lawrence plays Irving’s wife, Rosalyn, a character as distant from Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeem as Jack Benny is to Clint Eastwood. Amy Adams plays Irving’s mistress, the female lead. This may be Adams’ best performance yet. Bradley Cooper as an FBI agent, comic Louis C.K., plays Cooper’s boss with some great scenes. Robert De Niro has a small but riveting role as mob boss, Victor Tellegio, an associate of Meyer Lansky. Initially, the FBI is after the Mafia and then the politicians. Jeremy Renner plays the Mayor of Camden, Carmine Polito (Angelo Enichetti). Bale and Renner are an excellent duo. The movie exploits the times, the glitz of the era down to the men’s garish clothing. While the details about the characters are not accurate, there is quite a bit of truth in the storyline. David Russell directs and he keeps you involved with a script he co-wrote with Eric Warner Singer, from beginning to end. You will spend an enjoyable 129 minutes watching this film. A comedy-drama is a difficult combination but when it works, as it does here, the level of enjoyment is outstanding, which is why I watch movies. Yes, I really liked this film.
Steven Guttman, Esq.
Mr. Guttman is a Hawaii attorney and a partner with Kessner Umebayashi Bain & Matsunaga. He was a lecturer for a number of years at the University of Hawaii’s Shidler College of Business, and has served as director of both the Bankruptcy and Collection Law sections of the Hawaii State Bar Association. The national publication lists him as a “Super Lawyer” while as to movies, he’s been an active viewer for as long as he’s been big enough to sit in a theatre seat. A few years ago he began sharing his film commentaries with friends and colleagues. His straightforward reviews continue reaching an ever increasing audience.