January 2014 Club

American Hustle

I think I'm just a little bit in love with the character of Irving Rosenfeld. He's not exactly in shape, has an elaborately dodgy comb-over and is a long-time con artist, but there's just something about the way Christian Bale uses his voice, the way he exudes confidence and those huge 70s brown sunglasses that makes him a loveable rogue.

What an unprofessional way to start a review! But American Hustle is all about seduction and having the wool pulled over your eyes. I'm not afraid to admit to having been thoroughly seduced by the almost true story, from the breathy dialogue to the low-level lighting, the incredible acting to the fabulous soundtrack.

Irving Rosenfeld meets ex-stripper Sydney Prosser at a deliciously 70s pool party - they share a mutual love of Duke Ellington, are both survivors and will do anything to get by. Irving loves Sydney's sharp intelligence and fearlessness - she has nothing to lose and a lot of ambition. Irving has his fingers in many pies running a glass business, several dry-cleaning shops and a shifty art dealership. He also acts as a Lender of Last Resort, taking large upfront fees, but never actually providing the loan money. Sydney comes in on this business with him in the guise of Lady Edith Greensleeves along with a British accent and "royal banking connections in London". They make a great team and London Associates is a roaring success, until they get caught in a sting operation set up by ambitious, fame-seeking FBI agent, Richie DiMaso.

But Irving is married. His wife, Rosalyn, is depressed, slightly agoraphobic and highly manipulative in a passive aggressive way. Irving has adopted her son and is a great dad to him. She refuses to divorce him. She says "I don't like change. It's really hard for me. Sometimes I think I'll die before I change."

When Richie forces Irving and Sydney to take part in a huge entrapment operation involving numerous politicians and a fake sheikh, Rosalyn comes along to dinner with the mayor and his wife, lets her hair down a bit, is dangerous when she drinks and finds a new lease of life as her new friends find her entertaining. But she's a loose cannon in a dangerous situation.

In the end, who's conning who? "People believe what they want to believe."

Colourway inspiration

Entrapment
Choosing a suitable colourway wasn't easy. There were some amazing mustards and deep browns and pops of orange, but that would have been too obvious and perhaps not to everyone's taste. So instead, I took inspiration from a stunning dress that Sydney wears in the most beautiful teal. Still 70s, but not in-your-face 70s.

Honeypot
For the variegated colourway, I took the teal, a shell pink that Sydney wears, a pale blue dress that Rosalyn wears and the olive green of Irving's cravat. The way the colours have interacted, I think it looks more like 1870s than 1970s, but hope that nevertheless, you'll think it's pretty.

The yarn base is a new one - 100% silk which I've called Luminosity. So many of the fabrics in the 1970s were manmade, but I think some of the dresses in the film may have been satin and wanted to reflect the shine which the silk does in a beautiful, natural way.