Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Posser, con artists, are forced to work for Richie DiMaso, an overly powerful FBI agent who encourages them to help him catch other criminals in exchange for their own freedom.
The uber-talented group of actors in the 2013 black comedy crime drama keeps the audience glued to their seats. But is realism limited only to the characters? Let's find out.
Is the American Hustle a True Story?
Yes, 'American Hustle' is partially a true story inspired by an FBI sting operation code-named ABSCAM in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which resulted in the bribery convictions of several public officials, including one US senator and six congressmen. However, they took certain creative liberties with the events and people involved in constructing a character-focused narrative.
In a 1982 book titled 'The Sting Man,' O. Russell chooses to focus on the people involved. "To me, enchantment was everything." The director said in 'The Making of American Hustle' by Annapurna Pictures.
This allows for, but does not limit, changing the names of the characters since the film does not attempt to record the events as they occurred during the sting operation.
Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, who was inspired by con artist Mel Weinberg, who later aided the FBI in orchestrating the sting; while Amy Adams' character Sydney Prosser is influenced by Weinberg's lover Evelyn Knight. Bradley Cooper slips into the role of a complex yet vulnerable federal agent, Richie DiMaso. Jennifer Lawrence plays Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Irving's wife, and is based on Cynthia Marie Weinberg.
Carmine Polito is selfless and only participates in the Camden scam for the people's welfare, according to sources, and Evelyn Knight is apparently not involved in ABSCAM at all, contrary to Bale's Rosenfeld.
'American Hustle' does not get preoccupied with the period it is supposed to take place in, although most of the film takes place outdoors and relies on the characters, costumes, and cars to bring to the audience that authentic experience.
'American Hustle' contains several minor scenes that might have been included in order to enhance the tension between Irving, Sydney, and Richie — such as the friendship between Richie DiMaso and Sydney Prosser, even if the latter intended it as a deception.
Through 'American Hustle,' David O. Russell explains that emotions determine how far people are willing to go when it comes to changing themselves or something about their circumstances in life, and that sometimes, the need to be better and one's own selfish desires are mutually exclusive.