Great cast, great trailer, great name. Anything involving scandal and dodgy dealings tends to grab the public’s attention and I have to admit the glamorous world of money, art (fake of course), low-dipped dresses and high risk is extremely appealing.
The plot is loosely based on a true story from late-1970s when a handful of FBI agents enlisted an infamous New Jersey conman to help entrap corrupt politicians by offering them bribes from a ‘fake shiekh’. Dodgy dealings indeed. What results is a series of hilarious mind games between four characters who simultaneously hate and despise one another, living in constant suspicion of being conned. Christian Bale shines as the balding, heavy waisted idiot come genius Irving Rossenfield who owns a string of dry cleaners, dabbles in counterfeit art and gives out non-existent loans to desperate businessmen. $5,000 for $50, 000. His mistress, partner and love of his life, Sydney Prosser aka “Lady Edith” (Amy Adams) uses seduction as her form of persuasion, mincing around the screen in outrageously revealing outfits whilst putting on a fake English accent to lend their company respectability. Adams is less irritating than normal, giving a fairly captivating performance which makes her pleasantly watchable.
The two are ensnared by the over zealous, curly haired (the product of hundreds of tiny rollers) federal agent, Ritchie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) who forces them to work for him in return for immunity. He also, no surprises here, falls hopelessly in love with Sydney who claims to be stringing him along for future use. The situation goes from bad to ridiculous as Ritchie becomes more and more power hungry on his quest to get the ‘bad guys’. This involves Irv and his highly-strung wife Rosayln (Jennifer Lawrence) wining and dining the genuinely honest, but misled Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), which inevitably leads to all sorts of jealousies as Rosayln and Sydney begin to move in the same spheres. Throw a gang of mobsters into the mix and it all becomes a bit Goodfellas.
It’s a fun watch for the costumes and hair alone, but one can’t help feeling it could have done with a bit more cutting here and there. Coming in at over 2 hours long (that’s a good chunk of your evening), it seems a bit self-indulgent at times. You’re probably best advised to buy this one of DVD so you can pause for loo breaks and more snacks. The premier seats at the cinema are never as comfortable as they claim to be.