David O. Russell's ecstatically cinematic American Hustle tells a hypergroovy version of the late 1970s Abscam operation, in which the FBI enlisted con artists to help them catch corrupt politicians. Right from the opening shots of Christian Bale pasting and swirling an elaborate comb-over onto his bald forehead, this is a film all about false fronts and reinvention, the latter a subject Russell knows very well. Everyone in the overwigged ensemble is good, but Bradley Cooper is a revelation as a nakedly ambitious FBI agent. Buried under a dirtbag beard and a hideous nest of curls, Cooper is deprettied enough to let us fully see what an honest and forceful actor he has become. American Hustle might have even been great had Russell not tried to pull a hustle of his own, reaching a facile conclusion that hinges on emotional relationships we never knew existed.