American Hustle (R)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
This is set in 1978, and it's definitely very 70s. It's very loosely based on a real life FBI sting operation called Abscam, but I don't really know anything about that. I suppose I mainly wanted to see the movie because Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are in it. There are several other actors in it whom I know from other stuff, but generally speaking I either didn't recognize them in this or didn't know they were in it until I watched it. Anyway, the movie did well both critically and financially, but personally I thought it was just okay. Actually, my opinion varied throughout the movie. It took awhile for me to get into it, but eventually it became kind of fun because of how crazy things got. Certainly I thought all the actors did a good job. But ultimately... I dunno. It's not something I would ever watch again. I think it's a good movie, just not something I expect to find very memorable, and not something I think I'd enjoy watching a second time.
So... there's this con artist named Irving Rosenfeld, who starts dating a woman named Sydney Prosser (Adams). When she finds out he's a con artist, she becomes his partner, assuming a British accent and calling herself Lady Edith Greensly. They do pretty well together, but eventually they get busted by an FBI agent named Richard DiMaso. He wants to use them to help him entrap other con artists. Somehow, Richie's ambitions spin wildly out of control, as the web they all weave grows increasingly tangled. The main guy Richie wants to take down is Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of Camden, New Jersey, who basically just wants to help improve his city and state, mainly by revitalizing Atlantic City. But he couldn't obtain the necessary money to do this legally, so... Irving, "Edith," and Richie try to scam him with a phony investor, "Sheikh Abdullah." This all leads to Richie wanting to take down Congressmen and mobsters. As the situation escalates, Irving keeps telling Richie the operation is getting too big, but Richie doesn't pay him any mind. He just seems crazy, to me. In fact, he had a boss named Stoddard Thorsen, who was against the whole thing, but Stoddard had a boss named Anthony Amado, who liked the plan, and allowed it to continue. (Going over Stoddard's head is far from the worst thing Richie does to him, in the film, so I felt bad for him... Stoddard is basically the film's Butt Monkey and Only Sane Man.)
Meanwhile, Irving has more personal drama to worry about. He's married to a woman named Rosalyn (Lawrence), who has a young son named Danny, whom Irving had adopted when he married her. She's kind of crazy, herself, and I guess Irving only stayed with her for Danny's sake. Sydney didn't seem to mind too much that Irving was married, but she did mind that he ignored her plea that they run away together (taking Danny with them), to avoid jail and reject Richie's plan. Because he decided to go along with the original plan, she broke up with him, and started trying to con Richie into thinking she liked him. Meanwhile, she went along with Richie's own plans. But as the situation escalated, Irving came to regret not running away with Sydney when he had the chance. He also feels deeply guilty about what they're doing to Carmine, who may be willing to bend or break the law, but is a really good guy who just wants to help the people of New Jersey. Also, Rosalyn resents all of Irving's lies, and is naturally very upset about his relationship with Sydney (though how she knew about that, I have no idea). So she ends up getting involved with one of the mobsters, which threatens the whole sting operation.
I did like how the movie ended, except that we never got to hear the end of Stoddard's ice fishing story. (It's possible he was lying when he said Richie was wrong about how it ended, but I'm unsure of that. I'd like to believe Richie was wrong, but that means we'll never know the point of the damn story, which really bugs me.) But otherwise the movie's ending was pretty good.