A pair of  confidence tricksters (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) get entangled with an ambitious FBI agent and some dodgy politicians in this hilarious screwball crime comedy.

Director and co-writer David O Russell’s inspiration is the bizarre ‘Abscam’ sting operation of the 1970s in which a fake Arab sheikh helped the FBI nab a string of corrupt US politicians and the film he has concocted from this story fizzes with energy, quick wit and razzle-dazzle.

Sporting a hideous comb-over and podgy paunch,  Bale is endlessly devious but has a surprisingly decent core,  Adams is fascinatingly complex as his English-accent-faking partner in crime, Bradley Cooper’s FBI agent  is positively giddy with zeal and Jennifer Lawrence is hysterically funny as Bale’s flighty wife, whose volatile relationship with domestic appliances, including a sun lamp and a microwave she calls the ‘science oven’, is priceless.

The film picked up 10 Oscar nominations, including for all four stars, Best Picture and Best Director, but lost out on the night to such rivals as Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club.