Movie Review on American Hustle
American Hustle is likely to win a lot of prizes, and if there was an award for best depicting the dynamics that drive us, director David O. Russell’s smart film would win it. The film demonstrates that entertainment can nevertheless offer deep lessons about the difficult job of thinking in such a subtle way that you never see them coming.
Nearly every character in “American Hustle” suffers from over-motivation, as defined by cognitive science. We’re prone to believe that motivation has to compound worth and that we can only have too little of it to serve our cause, never too much.
Cognitive research, on the other hand, reveals a different narrative, as demonstrated in a study dubbed “Choking on the Money,” in which volunteers were paid for doing well on, of all things, a few games of Pac-Man.
The amount of money given to the participants was changed to elicit varying degrees of motivation, with the premise that the higher the monetary incentive, the more the drive to succeed—and the higher the penalty of failure.
About American Hustle
“American Hustle” depicts the narrative of characters who are intoxicated by desire and lose control of the steering wheel, leading to calamity.
Abscam, a dramatized version of the 1978 FBI operation known as Abscam, in which the FBI employed a convicted con artist to deceive members of congress into accepting payments from a phony Middle Eastern sheik, is the stage for their unraveling.
It’s purposefully difficult to dislike any of the characters in this film. Each acts on well-placed intentions that they defend. The Hustle’s first lesson is that it doesn’t really matter. Uncontrolled desire will have a body count, whether we think we’re well-intentioned or can even make a strong case that our desires are “good.”
That is the true conceit of the film. The term “American Hustle” is a tangential allusion to the dramatized Abscam fraud, but it’s more clearly a description of the internal deception that draws us into a yearning vortex.
The film provides a solution to this dilemma, which is hilariously exemplified by Christian Bale’s portrayal of master conman Irving Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld calls himself a conman “from the ground up.”