Directed by David O. Russell
“American Hustle offers so many easy pleasures that people may not think of it as a work of art, but it is,” said David Denby in The New Yorker. “An intentionally overripe comedy” about a 1970s sting operation that bags several corrupt pols, it’s powered by an ensemble cast so good they’re “the equal of anything from Hollywood’s golden age.” Christian Bale is “funny from the first scene” as a Bronx, N.Y.–born con man with a hideous comb-over who’s looking to avoid jail time by helping an antic FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) bring down a New Jersey mayor. And working schemes of their own are the con man’s girlfriend (Amy Adams) and wife (Jennifer Lawrence). Somehow, Lawrence’s Rosalyn “steals the picture,” said Justin Chang in Variety. With her flashes of temper and “lightning shifts in mood,” she proves “ferocious, maddening, and impossible not to love.” Yet none of this circus could come off without director David O. Russell, said Stuart Klawans in The Nation. He’s “a big, expressive moviemaker who seems willing to try anything.” Here, the risk-taking produces “deliriously enjoyable” comedy.