“Everyone Hustles to Survive”

| March 21, 2014
Source: IMDB

Source: IMDB

EDITORIAL – American Hustle is an elaborate show–not a film and definitely not a movie, but quite possibly an ironic musical. From the opening combover you’ll find yourself intrigued, but you’ll also find yourself wondering if you’ve dreamed it. Two hours long and entirely emotionally exhausting you’ll find yourself asking what you’ve just seen. What was the hustle? Why was it American? And, exactly how many times did Amy Adams’ breasts fall out of her shirts during the shooting of American Hustle? I don’t know, but I’m sure it was upwards of 100.

American Hustle is nothing short of a dramatic and suspenseful blockbuster, although the disillusioned characters are far from the norm. Authenticity, a word I don’t normally bestow upon films, is afforded to American Hustle without compromise. Focusing on the emotions of both the viewer and the characters are the ways in which these writers have chosen to depict their characters’ story. The viewer is not allowed to simply create a black and white world in American Hustle and the viewer is also void of the same right when it comes to the viewer’s feelings regarding each character. A viewer doesn’t simply love, hate, or even understand the characters in this film; one feels each of them. They are who they are, and although they may be gritty, bashfulness is not a character trait they, or their writers, display.

American Hustle is the story of survival through the hustle. But, as aforementioned, viewers may tend to disagree regarding which hustle is the one being described in the title. Of course, there is a hustle of politicians and of regular citizens having to do with money which is the main plot structure, but what about the hustle of the viewer and the characters? Not only is the viewer indirectly hustled into thinking the characters must do what they are doing in order to survive, the characters are consistently hustling the viewer or themselves into either thinking or being someone else due to their constant American citizenship.

As Americans, we find ourselves always wanting more and calling it “surviving” instead of thriving. According to Dr. Mark Goulston from PsychologyToday.Com[1], Americans consistently find themselves not only wanting more, but wanting it now. We’re obsessed with the idea of upward mobility, reinventing ourselves, and expecting someone to pay us for our sheer grace–a harsh cry from the common connotation one normally has when considering survival. Yes, our three main characters are simply trying to survive; two are trying to escape or lower jail time while another seems to only be concerned with solving crime, but is survival their only goal? Our two characters who are prepared to turn in innocent others in order to survive their jail time are only doing so because they were greedy and hustling citizens out of their money under assumed identities. The person trying to punish them, who either thinks he is or wants the viewer to think he is, trying to survive morally unscathed in such a crime ridden world, seems to change before our eyes as he not only wants to punish more people in order to further impress his peers, he also wants to be considered the most amazing detective of all–rewarded with personal recognition, a promotion, a hotel suite, more money, etc. You name it, these characters want it. In telling their stories and revealing their true emotions this film asks many delicate questions. Will you even bother to try to understand these characters and their facets? And what will you find out about yourself if you do? In many cases regarding each character, the viewer will find themselves drawn into the story, into understanding each character, and then almost immediately afterward, each viewer will find themselves sickened with what they have related to.

American Hustle depicts the hustle of the American culture while simultaneously hustling its characters and viewers out of the very idea of morals. American Hustle depicts a grayscale, instead of a black and white world, in which the viewer is immediately immersed. This elaborate hustle of the American viewer does not only guide the viewer to consider each character in every possible light, it also forces him or her to question their personal ideals of right and wrong while wondering why each person has chosen to create them in the first place as well as if they still exist. I can’t help but ask, who do you hustle on a daily basis?

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1 Comment on "“Everyone Hustles to Survive”"

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  1. Jay Platt says:

    Loved this post. I like to see the different ways people view things. Personally, my wife and I both loved this one. I highly recommend it. But, to each his (or her) own. And, I think you’re right about Amy Adams’ breasts. 🙂