MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Sony Pictures
Directed by David O. Russell. Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper
Every once in awhile a film comes along with so much working for it, it is with deep regret that I must admit I found myself a bit empty handed as I walked out of the theater after watching American Hustle, the new comedy from writer-director David O. Russell.
The film has a great cast, snappy dialogue, and spot-on art direction depicting the disco and spandexed 1970’s (although the music choices are fairly clichéd and obvious). Inspired by the 1978 Abscam FBI investigation that uncovered corruption in high places by using conmen posing as Arab sheiks, Russell creates his own fictional back-story to explain how everything might have been set up and how everything might have gone down.
His team of con artists include Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), an entrepreneurial swindler whose exploits involve investment schemes, art forgery and dry cleaning; Sydney Prosser, Irving’s mistress (Amy Adams), whose ferocious desire for the good life exceeds Irving’s; undercover FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) who joins up with Irving but soon falls under the seductive power of Sydney even as he is trying to take down the couple; New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) who believes in the old fashioned concept of using corrupt means to achieve good things for his constituents; and Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who has the good looks of Sydney but is left out of the inner circle just enough to become the loose cannon that could bring everything down like a house of cards.
You have to be pretty clever to keep this talented cast in motion for a couple of hours, and American Hustle is fast moving and fun, never taking itself very seriously. (The opening words on the screen note: “Some of this actually happened”.) The FBI is especially lampooned for its bureaucratic chicanery and ostentatious spending.
If you are not easily offended by R-rated language, you might find this to be diverting and entertaining. But if you are looking for any kind of moral lessons here, you won’t find many. As the prophet Jeremiah once complained: “Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” (Jeremiah 12:1 NRSV)
These colorful characters amused me but I never had any kind of rooting interest in their success or failure. A cultivated sense of irony gives you permission to enjoy these kinds of persons. A moral compass will direct you away from caring for them.
Two halos: A screwball comedy about the elusive American Dream.
Three pitchforks: Nonstop swearing, a brief scene of violence, deception, greed, some heavy petting and moaning.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH.
near the Akron-Canton airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW ·
North Canton, OH 44720
Toll Free: 800-831-3972
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
©2016 EAST OHIO CONFERENCE. All Rights Reserved.