In the swinging 70s, con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale in an extremely competent performance) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are running a reasonably successful loan scam with Sydney playing the role of British aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensley” to the hilt and ensuring that a lot of people succumb to the honey-trap routine. The duo are also involved romantically and things seem to be going on well with the exception of Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), Irving’s wife and the mother of his son Danny, who absolutely refuses to divorce him and get on with his life.
On the ‘professional front’ the duo then happens to be trapped themselves by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, adding to his list of better performances) who makes them an offer. He tells them to collaborate with the bureau to line up four arrests in return for being let off scot free. Despite Sydney’s initial misgivings about the deal, both she and Irving are not really left with a choice. But she takes one critical decision which ends up impacting their lives in more than a few ways.
One of the targets that Richie chooses to trap is New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Remner, finally playing a role where he actually needs to emote). Despite protestations from his boss and Irving for targeting politicians, Richie goes ahead and devises a plan to entrap Carmine for accepting bribes. One thing leads to another and suddenly the stakes keep getting higher and higher, especially for Irving who happens to develop a decent friendship with Carmine and his wife.
As if the situation was not complicated enough, Rosalyn also gets herself entangled in this entire mess with Irving, Carmine and Sydney. At one point in time, the movie and its proceedings get to be so convoluted with too many things happening and all the characters flitting in an out playing their parts in the game. What I loved about this part of the movie was the continuous escalation of the tension due to the increasingly higher stakes involved for Irving, Sydney and Richie.
All this time, a subplot involving Richie developing a romantic interest for “Lady Edith” is also built up and we realize that Sydney has a separate agenda of her own in this regard as well. Her intentions in this regard are not quite that transparent and viewers are left wondering what exactly is running inside that pretty blonde head of hers. This and the developing situation with Richie’s grandiose plans to trap some big fish culminate in an awesome ending to this movie. In fact, to me, it was the ending that really ‘took the cake’ so to speak. Will not say anymore as that would amount to a ‘spoiler’.
Suffice to say that this movie is quite an enjoyable watch. Although some of the characters such as Rosalyn seem unnecessary at first, they end up adding to the already simmering pot of confused ‘black humor’ that this movie really is. Although I personally haven’t read a review of this movie which puts it in this genre, I thoroughly enjoyed the irony of the situation that almost all the important characters of this movie found themselves in at different points in time.
Also, a special mention must be made of the make up and styling departments of this film. Viewers can be left with no doubt that this is a movie set in the 70s and I personally couldn’t quite find anything out of place in terms of the make up, art direction and styling in the entire movie. All in all, a nice enjoyable watch.