David O. Russell’s American Hustle is a critical and commercial success for the auteur director. So far, the film has grossed $129.2 million worldwide, and also been nominated for 10 Academy Awards, like as Best Picture, Best Director, and all of the acting nominations for it’s all-star cast. There are more than a few actors who have played superheros, or at least superhero-ish characters, including Christian Bale (Batman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), and Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen). While American Hustle is a big success, one investigative science writer isn’t particularly happy with one scene in the movie.
Author Paul Brodeur is namedropped in one sceness featuring Bale and Lawrence arguing over a new microwave, or as the film’s characters calls it, a science oven. After Rosalyn (Lawrence) breaks Irving’s (Bale) new science oven, she gives him an article by Brodeur about how the microwave “takes all the nutrition out of our food.” It’s one of the funniest moments in the superficial, but competent, movie. Apparently, Mr. Brodeur has never written such an article. Here’s the quote from the screenplay:
ROSALYN: You know, I read that it takes all of the nutrition out of our food. It’s empty, just like your deals. Empty, empty.
IRVING: That’s bullshit.
ROSALYN: It’s not bullshit. I read it in an article. (She hands him the magazine, which he reads). Look, by Paul Brodeur.
In a letter Brodeur wrote to The Wrap, the investigative science writer sets the record straight about “his words” in American Hustle. He was a staff writer at the New Yorker in the late 1950s where he wrote about the health hazards of asbestos, household detergents, ozone layer depletion, and microwave radiation.
“Indeed, I have publicly stated the opposite,” he wrote. “Moreover, there is no scientific support for such a statement. The World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration have declared that there is no adverse effect upon food cooked in a microwave oven.”
Brodeur’s lawyer has written a letter that claims the writers, director, and producers of American Hustle “attributing a scientifically unsupportable statement to me they have defamed me and damaged my reputation.” You can read the entire strongly written two-page letter below:
I find it strange that Russell used an actual writer’s name attached to an article about the danger of microwave ovens. He could’ve gotten the same effect using a fake writer or pseudonym. It’s not like Russell was going for authenticity while making American Hustle. This is a movie that begins with a title card that reads, ” Some of this actually happened,” after all.
As for the film itself, American Hustle is a fun enough if you want to watch extremely over-the-top and manic performances. It’s as if the characters are on heavy drugs throughout the whole movie, but Russell decided never to show them using. Aside from that, the film is light on its narrative and heavy on style, production, and costume design.
While American Hustle gathered 10 Academy Award nominations, Alfonso Cuarón’s space survival movie Gravity matched that total with 10 nods. Both films are the front-runners for the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards.
American Hustle is still in theaters, but you can watch the controversial scene in question right now.