It is well acted, although I thought Bradley Cooper's Oscar nominated performance was more than a little over-the-top. Jennifer Lawrence proves that she is a natural actor. As Meryl Streep is nuanced and studied and layered in her performances, Lawrence is unabashed and blissfully seemingly unaware of her gift and her humorous timing as the ditsy wife is impeccable. Amy Adams also does well in her roll as the sexy temptress, and so does Christian Bale as the consummate conman who the audience likes and sees clearly as a crook. The comb-over is hysterical. The rest of the cast from Louis C. K. to Jeremy Renner to the surprise appearance of Robert De Niro are all good. Ensemble is important to the success of any film and American Hustle is well cast and has it in spades.
I worry when a movie tries to purport itself as a history, that folks will think that it is. While ABSCAM may have inspired some of the events that may have "actually happened," American Hustle is a long ways away from the actual scandal. Long enough that all the major characters are fictional. This I suppose is why the movie works, it is very believable. There are elements still in the various scenes of the "con" that I am not sure which parts were part of the con artists at work and which were part of the lives of the characters. It makes for interesting consideration.