It may take you a moment to recognize Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in the first trailer for American Hustle, director David O. Russell's upcoming, vibrant-looking period crime drama. But when you do recognize them, it becomes immediately clear that both actors are turning in potentially career-changing performances.
"People come from all over the world to see this. It's a fake," says Bale's slippery grifter as he shows Cooper a painting in a museum. "People believe what they want to believe because it's so good that it's real to everybody. Then who's the master: The painter, or the forger?"
American Hustle offers a fictionalized version of the FBI's ABSCAM sting operation that began in the 1970s and eventually led to the convictions of a wide range of politicians, including one U.S. senator. The trailer makes it clear that Russell is gleefully playing up the trappings of the 1970s: Big hair, bad mustaches, leisure suits, and Led Zeppelin abound as the film's cast indulges in the decadence of the era.
And speaking of that cast: American Hustle's stellar lineup includes a series of actors who have worked with Russell in highly acclaimed films before, including Amy Adams and Christian Bale (who starred in 2010's The Fighter) and Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro (who starred in last year's Silver Linings Playbook). It's an undeniably impressive group of actors, and David O. Russell has been on a roll lately. But we won't know for sure if American Hustle continues his winning streak until it hits theaters in December.
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