American Hustle is a drama film directed by David O. Russell, from a screenplay written by Eric Warren Singer and Russell based on the FBI Abscam operation. It is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2013 (in limited release December 13, 2013) by Annapurna Pictures. The film stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro.
American Hustle is based on the true story of a notorious financial con artist (Christian Bale) and his mistress/partner in crime (Amy Adams), who were forced to work with an out of control federal agent (Bradley Cooper) to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters, and politicians. At the epicenter of the entire tale, is the passionate and volatile leader of the New Jersey state assembly (Jeremy Renner) who is also the local hero and mayor of impoverished Camden.
Originally titled “American Bullshit”, Eric Warren Singer’s screenplay was #8 on the 2010 blacklist. The film was set up at Sony Pictures Entertainment with Charles Roven and Richard Suckle producing through Atlas Entertainment and was initially considered by Ben Affleck to direct, before David O. Russell ultimately signed on to helm the film.
Principal photography started on March 8, 2013 and wrapped in May 2013. The film was shot using locations in and around Boston, Massachusetts (such as in Worcester) and New York. Filming had to be put on hold in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings with the city in lockdown. After lockdown was lifted, the film wrapped its Boston shoot and spent its final few days of production in New York City.
About the Story
In 1978, con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser have started a relationship and are working together. Sydney has improved Rosenfeld’s scams, posing as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. While Irving loves Sydney, he is hesitant to leave his wife Rosalyn out of fear of losing contact with their son, Danny. Rosalyn has also threatened that she could report Irving to the police if he leaves her.
FBI agent Richard “Richie” DiMaso catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up four additional arrests. Sydney opposes the agreement. Richie believes Sydney is English but has proof that her claim of aristocracy is fraudulent. Sydney tells Irving she will manipulate Richie, distancing herself from Irving.
Irving has a friend pretending to be a wealthy Arab sheikh looking for potential investments in America. An associate of Irving’s suggests the sheikh do business with Mayor Carmine Polito of Camden, New Jersey, who is campaigning to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City but has struggled in fundraising. Richie devises a plan to make Carmine the target of a sting operation, despite the objections of Irving and of Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.). Sydney helps Richie manipulate an FBI secretary into making an unauthorized wire transfer of $2,000,000. When Stoddard’s boss, Anthony Amado, hears of the operation, he praises Richie’s initiative, pressuring Stoddard to continue.
Richie’s overeagerness to make Carmine accept a cash bribe causes the mayor to leave their meeting. Irving convinces Carmine the sheikh is legitimate, expressing his dislike toward Richie, and the two become friends. Richie arranges for Carmine to meet the sheikh at an airfield, and without consulting the others, has Mexican-American FBI agent Paco Hernandez play the sheikh, a move Irving is not pleased with.
Carmine brings the sheikh to a casino party, explaining mobsters are there and it is a necessary part of doing business. Irving is surprised to hear that Mafia overlord Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), right-hand man to Meyer Lansky, is present, and that he wants to meet the sheikh. Tellegio explains that the business needs the sheikh to become an American citizen and that Carmine will need to expedite the process. Tellegio also requires a $10,000,000 wire transfer to prove the sheikh’s legitimacy. Richie agrees, eager to bring down Tellegio, while Irving realizes the operation is out of control.
Richie confesses his attraction to Sydney but becomes confused and aggressive when she drops her English accent and admits to being American. Irving arrives to protect Sydney and tries to stop their deal with Richie, but Richie says if they back out, Tellegio will learn of the scam and murder them both, as well as Rosalyn and Danny.
Rosalyn starts an affair with Pete Musane, a mobster she met at the party. She mentions her belief that Irving is working with the IRS, causing Pete to threaten Irving, who promises to prove the sheikh’s investment is real. Irving later confronts Rosalyn, who admits she told Pete. She agrees to keep quiet but wants a divorce.
With Carmine’s help, Richie and Irving videotape members of Congress receiving bribes. Richie goes over Stoddard, convincing Amado that $10,000,000 is needed to get Tellegio, but only gets $2,000,000. A meeting is arranged at the offices of Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone, but Tellegio does not appear. Richie records Simone’s admission of criminal activities.
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Colleen Camp
Screenplay by: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Production Design by: Judy Becker
Cinematography by: Linus Sandgren
Film Editing by: Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Costume Design by: Michael Wilkinson
Set Decoration by: Heather Loeffler
Music by: Danny Elfman
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2013