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YMMV / American Hustle

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: From how Rosalyn and Irving talk, it suggests that they were happy when they first got together and then Rosalyn got depressed and suffered Sanity Slippage. Or could Rosalyn have been putting on an act to get herself a husband and someone to help her take care of Danny? Irving's narration says Rosalyn turned out to not be the woman he thought she was, implying the latter. But her eventual Heel–Face Turn suggests the former.
  • Award Snub:
    • Some were rather annoyed that, despite receiving 10 Oscar nods, the film failed to earn recognition for its Makeup/Hairstyling (which was arguably one of its most praised features).
    • Were it not for Cate Blanchett's excellent work in Blue Jasmine, Amy Adams might have finally won her coveted Oscar instead of going home empty handed for the 5th time.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn. As noted below, some felt she was simply too young to play a bitter housewife (especially as the real life person Rosalyn was based on was in her 30s). But she was still highly praised in the role, some feeling she was still good in spite of that.
    • Jeremy Renner as Carmine Polito to a lesser extent. Many who had known the real life figure the character is based on praised Renner for recreating the man exactly. Others felt Renner was not the right fit - especially as he has made a career out of playing either action heroes or bitter Deadpan Snarkers - and thus was not at all right as the only Nice Guy in the film. Some feel he would have been a better fit for Richie, and Bradley Cooper would be more suited to Carmine.
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  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Amy Adams on Ms. Fanservice duty for two hours is more than enough for some viewers. And the camera's all too happy to oblige. Not helping matters is the skimpiest outfit she wears in the movie - the sparkly casino dress - being the one on all the posters. Oh, and she makes out with Jennifer Lawrence.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The two protagonists are unrepentant con artists, the FBI agent is more interested in advancing his career than fighting crime, and the only character who cares for people other than himself is sent to jail. Some audiences found it difficult to care.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • It seems almost prophetic that a film that deals with people conning money would come to public light about the huge gender pay gap in Hollywood.
    • Seeing Sydney go through the experience of realising that Richie is an abusive Jerkass once you know that Amy Adams suffered a lot of abuse on set from David O Russell.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The tension between Rosalyn and Sydney in the casino can become hilarious when you hear about how much Amy Adams trolled Jennifer Lawrence while filming. Amy had a habit of slouching when the camera wasn't on her, resulting in her nipples frequently popping out and distracting Jennifer. Amy decided to draw a smiley face on the area so "at least it would look friendly to her".
    • Any Angel fans will giggle at seeing Jeremy Renner and Elisabeth Rohm playing a Happily Married husband and wife. In Renner's episode of Angel, he plays a vampire who Rohm's character ends up killing with a large chunk of wood.
    • Rosalyn snaps in an argument with Irving "why don't you build something?" - Christian Bale's next film after this was Exodus: Gods and Kings where he plays Moses. Would Rosalyn be satisfied with that? And what's more is that Jennifer Lawrence's next project with David O Russell was Joy - where she plays a master inventor.
  • Hype Backlash: Some audiences don't find the film as good as its high reviews suggest. So much so that the Academy seemed to agree, resulting in a major Award Snub—the film failed to win any of its 10 Oscar nominations.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Rosalyn. Manipulative and crazy? Yes, and a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, but she's genuinely upset and hurt about the fact her husband is cheating on her and she does seem to care about Danny, and all she wants is for somebody to love her for who she is.
    • Arguably, Richie to an extent when you see his small apartment and desperate desire to become successful. Unfortunately, the jerkass part keeps rising as the movie progresses.
  • Les Yay: Rosalyn kissing Sydney on the lips in the bathroom scene, not to mention how absolutely stunned Sydney looks afterwards.
  • Narm Charm: Rosalyn furiously cleaning the house while dancing to "Live and Let Die".
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Robert de Niro in an uncredited cameo playing a mafia man in a single scene. And he speaks Arabic.
    • Also, Michael Peña as the Mexican "Sheik".
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Despite being well-received, this movie came to international attention when the Sony email hacks were released. Notably the two female leads were discovered to have been paid drastically less than the three males - despite having equal screen time. If the gender pay gap in Hollywood is brought up, expect this movie to be mentioned as an example of it. Jennifer Lawrence would later post a scathing editorial about it.
  • Tear Jerker: The breakdowns of Carmine and his family when they find out what Irving's done and that all of their hard work will be for nothing.
    • After the tense confrontation in the bathroom between Sydney and Rosalyn, Rosalyn leaves the bathroom and bumps into Pete. By the time Sydney passes them, Rosalyn is in tears and sobbing into Pete's chest. It's one of the times in the movie you can actually feel sorry for her. Even worse is that the song playing over that scene is 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart'.
    • During the big argument between Irving and Rosalyn, she says to him, in a voice full of tears, how she did it because of how all Irving does is leave her at home on her own all day and all she's ever wanted was for him to love her. It really goes to show how hurt she is by the affair Irving has been having with Sydney because of how the romance has gone out of their marriage, and thus why Rosalyn wants to go to Miami with Pete because, in her words, she's finally found someone who loves her. The way she screams it at Irving really hammers it home.
  • The Woobie:
    • Poor Sydney. As manipulative and conniving as she is, the fact that she truly loves Irving—and that his breaking her heart is what motivates her to throw herself into her seduction of Richie—really conveys just how much of a toll the whole affair is taking on her. Add in how sweet and girlish she is in the "good old days" sequence, and you really can't help but feel that she's a generally good person, but she just can't accept what this criminality is doing to her. (Being played by Amy Adams certainly helps.)
    • Carmine is this in spades. He's not "corrupt" in the sense of being bad...he just played the game because he honestly felt he had no choice. And then he's the one who goes down in the end....
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • For a lot of viewers, Jennifer Lawrence was just too young to believably portray a character like Rosalyn.
    • For others, Jeremy Renner wasn't believable as the only squeaky-clean Nice Guy in a cast full of Gray-and-Gray Morality. It makes more sense with him originally being brought in to play Richie - when Christian Bale had to temporarily drop out and Bradley Cooper swapped from Richie to Irving. When Christian Bale's schedule opened up, everyone reverted to their initial parts and Carmine was written so that Jeremy Renner could star.

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