Review: American Hustle (2013, David O. Russell)

935381-american-hustleRATING: 9/10

Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Houston, Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Elisabeth Rohm, Shea Whigham
Screenplay: Eric Singer & David O. Russell

The highly anticipated film, “American Hustle” surely did not disappoint. Directed by David O. Russell (who co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Singer), he has brought us a comical, dramatic, sexy, fabulous 1970s tale of con artists and FBI agents–which is quite a handful to say in one sentence. Half of the time, you don’t even know (or realize) what’s going on, but thanks to Russell’s outstanding ensemble cast and dedicated crew, we are given a film full of spunk and cinematic moments that make it one of the best and most unforgettable movies of the year!

It’s actually got a very simple plot, but a lot of messy, loveable and complex characters that are there to confuse and entertain you out of yours wits. The movie follows Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), one of the best con artist in the country, and his foxy mistress and co-conspirator Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who is retrieved by FBI Agent Richie DeMasso (Bradley Cooper) to bust other hustlers in exchange for jail time. But when Richie’s dreams of grandeur lead them to try and bust corrupt politicians instead, more specifically New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), Irving and Sydney realize they may be in over their heads. In addition, we’ve got Irving’s loud, uncontrollable and often crazy wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), along for the ride to make sure everything gets screwed up. Simple enough for ya?

David O. Russell really is on a role. His three films of “re-invention” includes this, last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) and “The Fighter” (2010) have all been grade A films for me. But the direction of “American Hustle” isn’t exactly the film’s strongest suit. Though I do find him rather brilliant, the true star of the film is the work that ensemble cast does together. Russell’s style isn’t really found in this Scorsese-like motion picture, but more on how he handles actors. And he’s really great with that. All the actors in the film were aces across the board. Even the smallest supporting roles of Louis C.K. (who plays Bradley Cooper’s boss) to Polito’s wife, played by Elisabeth Rohm, was played out in perfection.

Bale immerses himself in yet another film role. Despite other criticisms, in no way is Bale doing a “Robert De Niro” impression. He reaches his own greatness here, and plays a very viable and charming leading man across Amy Adam’s Sydney. Jeremy Renner’s calm and quiet performance was just what his character needed and Cooper was frantic, but worked very well with his character. He certainly had the best comic timing, along with Jennifer Lawrence. But it won’t be a surprise to hear that this movie’s true stars are the two women involved, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.

“American Hustle” is built in Scorsese fashion, yes, but with one major difference: it’s focus on the women roles. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence stole the show from the men entirely. Playing across each other, they were undeniable, especially in the bathroom scene (pictured above) which features one of the best acted scenes of the year. Plus, they looked fabulous all throughout the film. Amy Adam’s Sydney may have been a fake con artist (her terrible British accent shows that) but the vulnerability and heartbreak we hear in her voice runs high. Lawrence, somewhat a muse to Russell, delivered a supporting performances that isn’t only funny and one-sided, but so charming and well thought of as well. I loved these two ladies.

The production design and entire look of the film was great. It’s hard to deny the costumes and the makeup was something else! But when you’ve got the groovy 1970s to play with, you better make it good! “American Hustle” hit the right spots, aesthetically. Not to mention, David O. Russell’s handpicked soundtrack went very well with the film’s narrative. My favourite being: “Blue Moon”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”. Perfection.

Overall, the film stands as one of my favourite movies of the year. And though some may argue that it’s pure trash, I’ll always find a place for this in my heart. Acting is usually what I love to see in films, and I enjoyed each person in the movie. What I like in movies, I found here – because I didn’t only find it truly good, but entertaining as well. We must remember that movies aren’t only there for artistic reasons, but also there to entertain.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. hannahstantongockel says:

    I just saw it! gosh that bathroom scene was excellent. I really enjoy seeing louis ck in movies now too. he was so entertaining in blue jasmine. the ensemble was perfect…none of acting was overshadowed by anyone else’s. the movie really built up well to the bathroom confrontation too, I was anticipating it from early on.

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