In 2013, Columbia Pictures released American Hustle, the David O. Russell-directed fictionalization of ABSCAM, an FBI operation that looked to sniff out political corruption with the help of a convicted con man. In the film, con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), get caught by Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), a hothead FBI agent looking for his way to the top. The three make a deal to set up corrupt politicians, starting with the local mayor (Jeremy Renner). Keeping things interesting throughout is Irving’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence).
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and both Best-Supporting awards, American Hustle stands out thanks to its painfully obvious comb-overs, rotary-phone assaults, dark comedy and a great script featuring the memorable lines contained within this article. So, take some time, click the button, and re-live some of the best moments from American Hustle.
“She was the Picasso of passive-aggressive karate. She was better than any con artist I ever met, including myself. And she had me like nobody had me. You might say she was my karma, for how I took advantage of people.” – Irving
By the time we meet Rosalyn, her and Irving’s relationship appears to be on its last legs. It wasn’t all that clear how they felt for each other, but their conversation in this scene explained their dynamic quite perfectly. Rosalyn’s quote immediately before this is one way of explaining things, while Irving’s is the more elegant of the two.
“I put the fire out, Irving. There is no fire. Maybe if you were here more there would’nt have been a fire in the first place.” – Rosalyn
Apparently Rosalyn had a thing for accidentally starting fires. If something keeps happening, you usually find that the common denominator is the cause. In this case, that was Rosalyn. But according to her own logic, it’s still somehow Irving’s fault.
“Bring something into this house that’s going to take all of the nutrition out of our food and then light our house on fire? Thank God for me.” – Rosalyn
So, apparently blaming Irving for the latest fire she caused wasn’t enough. Rosalyn also had to blame him for bringing in a microwave that robs their family of their nutrients. Looks like she’s the hero at the end of the day for ridding the house of that damned “science oven.”
Note: The instant reaction of Danny, her son, to grab a fire extinguisher puts in perspective just how often this really happens. The fact that they have more than one makes it even more clear.
“I felt like we had a secret, just the two of us. You know? Like that thing when you just wanna be with the one person the whole time? And you feel like the two of you understand something that nobody else gets. I could just tell her everything about myself. And I’d never had anybody like that in my life before. I felt like, finally, I could truly be myself without being ashamed, without being embarrassed.” – Irving
While Irving’s relationship with Rosalyn was in shambles, he was building one with Sydney, a woman who loved Duke Ellington and was willing to work a con to get ahead. Irving officially had a problem on his hands: Parts of him loved two different women.
“He wasn’t necessarily in good shape and he had this comb-over that was rather… elaborate. He had this air about him and he had this confidence that drew me to him. He was who he was, he didn’t care.” – Sydney
If you were sitting in your seat wondering what it is you admired so much about Irving, but couldn’t figure it out, Sydney basically told you what it was. She felt the same and that’s what hooked her.
“I’m like the f*ckin’ Viet Cong, man, alright? I’m in and I’m out. I was there the whole time. You don’t know it, alright? That’s the f*ckin’ art of becoming somebody who people can pin their beliefs and their dreams on.” – Irving
This is the difference between Irving and Richie. Richie does things for show, then wants to revel in the moment. Irving works in silence, gets out of the way, and celebrates his victories quietly.
“I know you think — look at me. Hey, Edith — I know you think Irv loves you. I know you think you know him. You think that he sees the world as this cold, dark place. He cares about nobody but very few people on a short list: His son, his father, Rosalyn and you. You think you’re on the top of the list? What if you’re not? What if you’re not on that list? What if you’re not even on that list at all?” – Richie
After a while, the love triangle became a love – let’s just call it a quadrilateral, it was far too unstable to be a square or rectangle. This moment was a seed for what would grow into a relationship between Richie and Sydney and a wedge between Irv and Sydney, leaving Irv to either go back to Rosalyn, as always, or stand on his own.
“Maybe you’re gross inside. What, robbing people and all that sh*t that you do? Maybe we’re both gross inside. That’s what Irving loves about us. At least he’s consistent. You know, sometimes in life, all you have are f*cked up, poisonous choices.” – Rosalyn
If looks could kill, neither one of these ladies would’ve made it out of that bathroom. Both are filled with disgust for the other as they competed for Irving’s affection, but Rosalyn helps Sydney realize the two aren’t really all that different.
“If I really wanted to f*cking bother you, this is what I would do.” – Richie
The first big laugh of the film came with the sight of a pot-bellied Christian Bale standing in the middle of a room with his hair sticking straight up to reveal his bare scalp. He looked embarrassed that his deep dark secret had finally been revealed. The funny thing is, it was never a secret.
“Daddy’s a sick son of a b*tch?” – Danny
No one believes that kids repeat what they hear until you have a Meet the Fockers moment and they talk back. After constantly badmouthing Irving in front of her son, Rosalyn can’t help but feel indifferent about his response.
“You are nothing to me until you’re everything.” – Sydney
Woah. This is probably one of the most serious moments of the film, and it’s a doozy. After seriously dropping the ball, Irving gets an earful and a half from Sydney about how it’s over and what lines he shouldn’t cross moving forward.
“I think you do other things besides respect me.” – Stoddard
Louis C.K. brought tears with his performance in American Hustle. Although they were uncontrollable, they obviously weren’t from sadness. They were from watching him get hit in the face with a telephone and never getting to the end of that damned ice-fishing story.