2013-12-22

American Hustle – Surviving or Thriving?

by Yo Snyder

American Hustle is
The Sting for the 21st
century. It has loveable rogues, twists and turns, and a cast made up of some
of the best and brightest young stars. However, it’s also very much a product
of our late 21st century, post-modern, relativistic world. Things
are much more shades of grey, there are no clear lines between right and wrong,
and of course there’s a bit of a harder edge to the proceedings. All this adds
up to a film that’s as tragic and bleak as it is entertaining.

Now, there are plenty of occasions where a film is filled
with all kind of talent, which of course makes everyone assume that it’s going
to be really good. However, oftentimes that just isn’t the case. Fortunately, American Hustle is not only filled with
talent, but that talent is on a full display it all comes together to make for
a remarkable film. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley
Cooper, Jeremy Renner; all of them not only have great parts to play, but they
do a great job playing them, and David O Russell is quickly establishing as a
solid director. So when you have great talent and a great director, while that
doesn’t always guarantee a great film, in this case it actually does.

Of more interest to me is the writing. American Hustle features some superb writing. It’s at once
profound, funny and heartbreaking. There’s a lot of talk in this film about
what we need to do to survive, and the real tragedy is that’s all this film
suggests we can do in life; survive by whatever means possible, even it means
conning ourselves, or making the best choice out of nothing but bad choices.
However, there is a better possibility. Jesus came to this world to give us
another choice, a better choice. Jesus said he came not only to so that we
might survive life, but so that we could thrive in life (John 10:10). While it’s
true that sometimes life is full of nothing but bad choices, God in his great
love for us recognized that and decided to make a better way and give us a
better choice. In short we don’t have to just survive however we can and just
get by, we can experience so much more through Jesus Christ.

The other thing I really enjoyed in American Hustle is how full it is of symbolism and allegory. It has
a tremendous message about the deceptive charm of sin, which believe it or not,
is tied directly to a conversation about nail polish. However, I would be remiss
not to mention that this film, with its bleak outlook also has a bit of a hard,
bitter edge. It’s fairly dark and bleak, and at times even a bit racy; which is
all a part of the nothing but bad choices these characters have to make. Still,
it’s a film that gives the viewer a lot to think about and has a lot more going
on beneath the surface and one where every conversation has a deeper meaning. It’s
a hard movie to recommend because of some of the content, but it’s also a movie
that keeps you thinking long after it’s over.

Score: 6 of 7: Take
that R rating seriously, there’s lots of language and some realistically
portrayed sensuality (realistic in that it’s not just there to titillate). But
it’s also a well-written, well-acted, well-directed film that’s thoughtful and
entertaining.