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American Hustle

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This movie is an enigma. It's not especially easy to follow, and it consciously steers away from any kind of moral. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, and the distance of several months hasn't brought much clarity. It borrows heavily from Scorsese's Casino, in that this is an ensemble cast of a bunch of hucksters conning each other. However, Casino eventually sorts out the good guys and the bad guys, something that Hustle pointedly avoids. The con and the movie both eventually end, and although it's obvious who triumphed, it's not clear how we're supposed to feel about it. It's an ambitious artistic choice, and I'll forgive the movie it's ambiguity for being willing to take the chance.

It's not hard to forgive the movie, either. The cast is fantastic, the writing and delivery are crisp, and the period costumes and sets are wonderfully articulated. It's particularly interesting how this isn't just the 70s, it's the 70s among a very particular kind of upwardly mobile slice of society. The microwave scene, in particular, is absolutely fabulous, and if you aren't a Jennifer Lawrence fan before watching it, you will be afterward.

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