American Hustle

RICHIE DIMASO: What, did you try to dress me so I would look like him? EDITH: GREENSLY No, you’re not dressed like him, all right?

Richie is an FBI agent and doesn’t want to be associated with the con artists Edith and Irving. When Richie thinks that Edith dresses him like her partner he feels used, and is insecure because he is falling for Edith. Though he doesn’t trust Irving, when Irving insinuates that Edith is dressing them the same he is so nervous that he is becoming a con artist himself. He wants to believe he is better then them, but starts to doubt himself that he is becoming “like him”, meaning Irving.

Edith’s responds to Richie with urgency as she starts her sentence of with a direct “No”. Edith’s real name is Sydney Prosser and she is living a lie, in order to scam people’s money with Irving. She tries to validate herself whenever she can, in order to be believed as Edith, a British aristocrat. Sydney balances Irving her partner in crime, who she’s in love with, as well as leading on Richie, the cop, in order to not get arrested.

The entire idea of Edith dressing Richie like Irving shows the underlying theme of forgery, and scamming. Richie feels this need to find the truth, where Edith feels a need to cover it up. Not only does she convince herself of the falsies, she questions others believes in the truth, strengthening her own lies. Edith has a lot of power in this situation, because her identity is unknown by Richie, and both men love her. She still has to be extremely cautious because if she angers Irving he could expose her true identity; if she angers Richie he could have them both arrested.

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3 Responses to American Hustle

  1. Lindsey Grubbs says:

    Nice, Maya–you’ve given some good concrete analysis here and put in the context of the film well, I think. Your focus on her power and the tension between her attempt to hide the truth and his to find it (through the clothes specifically, and as a forger and cop more broadly) is a smart connection. There’s also something very interesting going on with the question of “looking” like something. He isn’t explicitly saying that he is *becoming* like someone, but that he is looking like it–which you rightly tie together. This seems to tie into your bigger point about the connection between looks and actions. Also like how you tie the assertive “No” into her character.

    There may be a little too much summary and “big picture” thinking here, though, for the typical close reading–what would it look like if you dived down further into the structure of the sentences before you zoomed out? For example, why might we have two questions in a row? Even though she’s in control in this scenario, she still uses a question–is that just annoyance? Why do we have this “what” tacked on to the beginning of his question? What about specific words? Why “try” to dress him, not just “did you dress me”? Or more broadly, “did you try to dress me so I would look like him” instead of “did you dress me like him”? Who is positioned as the subject/agent in each sentence?

  2. Maya Danielle Bornstein says:

    Richie uses “try”, to make clear that he isn’t like Irving that even if Edith tries to make him that way she will not be successful. Richie also refuses to say Edith or Irving’s name in this scene, he says “you”, when referring to Edith, and “him” when referring to Irving. This shows through his childlike behavior that he is upset at them. Instead of sussinctly asking Edith if she had dressed him like Irving, Richie double questions himself and Edith, with both “what?” and “look like him?”

  3. Lindsey Grubbs says:

    Nice addition! This makes it seem like the interaction might be more of a battle of the wills. I’m curious what the visual would add, here–for example, is he really dressed like him in this scene?

    Side note: commas go inside quotation marks.

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