by K.M. Zahrt
As the (now) Golden Globe Award-winning American Hustle opens, a message appears on the screen: “Some of this actually happened.” It’s a striking statement because we expect the usual “based on a true story” line. This statement could imply one of two things: (1) the story is so bizarre that you won’t believe what happened and/or (2) the story has been altered so much for Hollywood purposes that “based on a true story” is no longer accurate. As a viewer, I found the former to be true. As a Michigander, I found the latter to be very true.
The “How Much of American Hustle is Real?” question has garnered a lot of attention on many websites, including but certainly not limited to: The Daily Beast, Examiner, The Guardian, Slate, and The Washington Post.
But I’m not interested in writing another Internet article about how undercover FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper’s character) may have represented the work of a gang of lawmen, not just a single man, nor how the involvement of Sydney Prosser (Amy Adam’s character) may have been exaggerated only to add romantic elements.
No. Here’s my beef: that Thorsen character is a fraud. In the film, Louis C.K.’s character, Stoddard Thorsen, is supposedly a Michigander. (For those of you who have yet to see the film, I’ll give you a second to get over your shock. Yes, Louis C.K. is an actor in this film, and yes, he’s supposed to be a Michigander.) Thorsen is the line-toeing commanding officer of DiMaso.
Thorsen is not a Michigander. Firstly, it’s typical for Hollywood to portray a Michigander as a nice, round, bald man who’s unwilling to take professional risks. Hollywood, would you do your research, please? We’re not all like that. Thank you!
Secondly, his phony accent gives him away from the start. Where is that guy from anyway? Nowhere near here.
And finally, Thorsen tells DiMaso a story from his childhood of going ice fishing. That all seems to check out. Michiganders ice fish. But then, Thorsen gives himself away. He says he once went ice fishing with his brother in October. October? Michiganders wouldn’t be crazy enough to go fishing on ice as thin as it is in October, if there even is any. Maybe Minnesotans would do something like that.
So, Hollywood, even though you produced another fine film that was plenty entertaining for us to watch in the warm theater while it was almost zero degrees outside, the factual inaccuracies are too much to overlook. Excuse me. That’s just my opinion. Thank you, again, and congratulations on your Golden Globe Award!