American Hustle (2013)
When con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his beautiful partner/girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are forced to run set-up jobs by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) during the late 1970s, they are thrown into a situation where they can’t even trust each other. Side stepping their first target Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) due to higher stakes, Irving, Sydney and Richie are now trying to taken down some of the biggest casino owners in Jersey, but when Irving’s wife (Jennifer Lawrence) insists on being included, she almost ruins everything by being the huge gossip she is.
Directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, Three Kings), American Hustle has his style written all over due to the fact that 4 of the 5 leads were in his last 2 films. Right off the bat I have mixed feelings about American Hustle. Positives include the wonderful acting, charm and crazy dialogue (which at times makes it funny). Christian Bale does such a good job that I forgot it was him behind those dim glasses and bad comb-over. Amy Adams also does a perfect job as the girl who plays everyone and no one can seem to trust. I can also see David O. Russell’s solid direction here like I did in the Fighter and Silver Lining that could help him easily get the Oscar this year.
As far as the negatives go, one of the biggest things I didn’t like was the lack of feeling like this was a “crime” movie. It lacked suspense and any feeling like someone could or would be “whacked.” Only 1 person gets killed in this movie, and it is during a flashback that takes 10 seconds and is over before you know it. The person who is killed doesn’t even matter because it was more about who was doing the killing. I was hoping for more of a mob or gangster feel and it just seemed to be more of a “cat and mouse” affair with everyone conning everyone else. That’s another aspect I didn’t like! It just felt like most of the movie was dialogue and arguing. I never felt like the movie had real direction until more than halfway through and even then I still wasn’t sure where the story was going. For a con movie, the ending felt pretty weak, but I’ll be the first to admit that I need to re-watch it for all the cues you don’t notice the first time.
All and all, I feel this is a pretty solid film that went a tad soft throughout and could have shown more teeth. I wish there would have been a little action or suspense, but maybe I just need to see it again to truly appreciate the story. Not a bad movie by any means, just was hoping for more. Co-starring Robert De Niro, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, and Michael Pena.
8/10 Stars – Well crafted, directed and acted, but was hoping for more “gangsta” with action and suspense.
One word comes to mind after seeing American Hustle, authentic. Everything about the film feels original. It is as if the film was made in the 70’s not in 2013. I mean even the production company logos at the beginning of the film are authentic to what they were or would have been based on the time period of the film. The only give away in the film is the actors we know so well.
Speaking of actors this has to be one of the best ensemble performances of the year. Bale, Adams, Cooper and Lawrence are all equally great and they play off one another so perfectly. This is key because the film is heavy in dialogue and subtle looks versus action and over the top drama. David O. Russell certainly knows how to bring the right group together for success. I will say Bale and Cooper steal the show from their female counter parts. The ladies are great too but Bale and Cooper just take it to another level.
If I had to be picky I would agree with my counter part that the plot does ramble a bit and you find yourself wanting them to get to the point. Sprawling would be a good word to describe the story. It seems to spread out, take its time and meander. It isn’t that getting to the point of it all isn’t enjoyable but like the operation Cooper’s character is trying to pull off the story lacks a certain finesse. The funny thing about the plot is that the whole film is about everyone conning everyone else, but the audience ends up being the victims of the biggest con. Unless of course you are very astute and can see things coming from a mile away in films like me. It wasn’t the best end to a movie of this sort but it was still a good one.
When it’s all said and done I can see why most people are raving about this film. It will certainly win some awards. The truth is though that it isn’t as perfect as everyone is making it out to be. I think this is one time the hype has clouded some judgement. American Hustle is a fabulous film but not everything about it is great so don’t expect perfection or you will be disappointed.
8/10 Stars – The authentic nature of the film lured me in but the acting kept me hooked.
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