Most people don’t look back upon the fashion of the 1970’s with fond memories. The big hair, the bell bottoms, the busy patterns, and the rainbow of colors. The 70’s are more proof that you should never do something just because everyone else is. Who would’ve thought that the decade had a glamorous side?
Set in 1978 and based loosely on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 70’s and early 80‘s, American Hustle is a story of crime and corruption. Con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) begins an extramarital relationship with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who dawns a faux British accent and poses as the wealthy “Lady Edith Greenslay”.
Prosser’s aristocrat act helps Irving execute his illegal deals, until the crime-committing couple are exposed for a loan scam by FBI Agent Richard “Richie” DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Rosenfeld and Prosser must navigate the hazardous playing field of mobsters and big shots, in order to help DiMaso frame Camden, New Jersey Mayor, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). In exchange, DiMaso will drop the charges against the couple.
The mafia gets involved, money gets moved around, and Rosenfeld’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), holds the power to ruin it all.
American Hustle recently won a Golden Globe and it isn’t hard to see why with such an intricate storyline. But it’s the stars who bring the story to life, and the amazing costumes in this period comedy/drama really bring out the essence of the characters thanks to the talented costume designer Michael Wilkinson. The task of recreating an entire wardrobe of 70’s clothing without making it look, well, tacky and atrocious, is quite the undertaking. And made even more so because each character’s clothing illustrated their personal transformations throughout the film.
Amy Adams was given close-fitting, delicate clothes to bring out her character’s sophistication and vulnerability.
On the other hand, Jennifer Lawrence was clad in brightly patterned muumuus, as she played the suburban housewife. But when Rosalyn’s time came to step onto the scene, she wears loud jumpsuits and too-tight evening dresses, to steal her husbands attention away from his mistress.
As for the men, Wilkinson strived to make their apparel pay homage to the era rather than make a mockery of it. The male characters were given silk shirts, fur coats and smoky glasses to reflect the aristocratic nature of the con world. Jewelry, too, from tie pins to gold chains, was worn as an indicator of status and self expression.
Directed by David O’Russell, American Hustle is a great way to spend an evening at the theater.