Monday, 13 January 2014

American Hustle Review

American Hustle is more than anything else, a showcase for its actors; a sure fire Oscar contender in all the acting categories. It may seem to many a bit of a stretch to call performances 'brave' but American Hustle is full of such performances. Christian Bale balloons and covers baldness with an ambitious comb over, Amy Adams spends the entire film showing off some serious side boob, Jennifer Lawrence plays a hideously manipulative bitch and Bradley Cooper turns what should be the good guy into an utter prick.

American Hustle is the story of con man Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) who, along with his smart and attractive partner Sydney (Adams) is caught grafting and then forced by Federal Agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) to aid the FBI in catching high profile targets using their skills. In return for leniency, Rosenfeld and Sydney will lure their prey in and ensure DiMaso gets his men. When the stakes are suddenly raised and senators, congressmen and the Mob become involved, all the characters quickly find themselves out of their depth, made worse by Rosenfeld's scheming and completely untrustworthy ex-wife Rosalyn (Lawrence).

Its a film lush with production design detail,showing off not just its cast's considerable acting talents but also their commitment to looking a little bit silly and mostly unlikeable. The hair, the costume and the decor is wonderfully awful and fortunately only adds to the performances. The murky grey areas of morality are explored throughout with the con artists robbing the poor, the FBI behaving in equally questionable ways and it all takes place in an America only recently recovering from Vietnam and Watergate. No one is nice, few get out clean and even those that do manage to keep their heads up, leave a lot a lot to be desired.

The story is 'mostly true' but Eric Warren Singer and director David O. Russell's screenplay is a little too neat to be credible. The characters are great fun to watch when they get into the scamming but watching Bale and Adams falling in love is less essential. Bale seems to be channeling De Niro (who briefly turns up for a cameo) and Adams is the smartest but least interesting character beyond wondering how her breasts stay in her dresses. In fact, these two get the less exciting roles being more dependable than electric. It's when Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence rev up that the film really takes off. Both smart and stupid and incredibly manipulative, they are the fuel that makes American Hustle catch fire.

Overall it's a clever con, funny at times and crammed with wonderful performances. It might not have the zip and the pizazz of a Goodfellas or a Boogie Nights, but what it does have is Batman, Lois Lane, Rocket Racoon, Mystique and Hawkeye all in one film and all playing characters that are far more interesting than their comic book counterparts.

Stick around! Please enjoy some more reviews from I Love That Film:

Dallas Buyers Club

12 Years A Slave

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

All is Lost

The Railway Man

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Captain Phillips

Saving Mr. Banks

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