Thursday, 23 January 2014

'American Hustle' Film Review

Based (very) loosely on the ABSCAM operation, David O. Russell's 'American Hustle' received international critical acclaim, winning three Golden Globes and nominated for ten Oscars, but is it all it's hyped up to be?

Irving Rosenfeld, (Christian Bale) a con artist with a bad comb-over and a beer belly falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at a party. By impersonating a British aristocrat, Sydney helps Irving's business soar and the two become the perfect con duo, until they caught by Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).

DiMaso offers them a deal: Help him make four additional arrests and they can go free. The two reluctantly agree, but soon realises DiMaso's ambitions soar beyond their control into the realm of the mafia. Can they pull off the ultimate hustle?

The movie picked up very quickly but the plot was somewhat ambiguous until at least a third of the way through (maybe I'm just slow on the uptake). Meanwhile, you're just watching a fat (but lovable) Christian Bale courting a boobalicious Amy Adams. The two compliment each other in a sublime way, the way they con, the way they love, the way they fight... 

...which is why when Jennifer Lawrence's Rosalyn (Irving's wife) was introduced, the character dynamics got complicated, and very interesting. 

"Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but you had to survive?"

I suppose, at the heart of the movie, is the notion of survival and searching for a better life. All the characters aspire for something greater, and the exploration of their individual wants and the relationships between them become the focus of the movie, character studies moreso than focused plot lines.

As story develops, tensions increase and character dynamics too explode, playing out in parallel. Though the climax was clever, it was almost 'seen before' and was missing an explosive gasp of surprise, think 'Ocean's Eleven'. Nonetheless, it was well finished and appropriately handled.

Unfortunately, the movie does not really leave you with many lasting impressions. Yes, it was strong, the performances were great, but what did we take from it? Nothing. Apart from that we love Jennifer Lawrence. Unlike Spike Jonze's sentimental and moving 'Her', or Alfonso Cuaron's breathtaking and powerful 'Gravity', 'American Hustle' is simply a fun, but soon to be forgotten, movie (once the hype passes).


Christian Bale- Irving Rosenfeld

Amy Adams- Sydney Prosser
Bradley Cooper- Richie DiMaso
Jennifer Lawrence- Rosalyn Rosenfeld
Jeremy Renner- Carmine Polito

Also stars Robert DiNiro, Michael Pena and Jack Huston.

Christian Bale's transformative performance, was just that. Yes, he had to make drastic (and perhaps dangerous) physical changes, but his performance was nothing extraordinary, nothing beyond what he would usually bring to a movie, unlike the two female leads.

Amy Adams' take on Sydney Prosser was brave and sexy, wearing beautiful 70s outfits with a plunging neckline (or lack thereof) that gives her character so much personality and sass.

Despite not being a lead character, Jennifer Lawrence arguably stole the show with a quirky, fun and at times bi-polar performance. She lights up every scene and delivers consistently with diversity and range. Never will 'Live and Let Die' be the same again.

When Adams and Lawrence's characters face off on screen, it was intense, gripping and magical.

'American Hustle' is a purely brilliant study of characters, motives and ambition, led by the all star cast (the main four cast members were all Oscar nominated); although the movie was slightly long and the plot lacked power, it was made up by the strong performances and wit of the whole thing.

Whilst I wouldn't call it the movie of the year or give it the Best Motion Picture Oscar, it was definitely a really enjoyable film to watch with some unexpected moments that are quirky, surprising and fun. If you only see this for Jennifer Lawrence, it's worth it too.

1 comment:

  1. An incongruous jumble, American Hustle's supporting cast and Lawrence's stellar turn lingers in the eye, not the movie as a whole. For a film that perhaps attempted to break a mold, it suffers from simply not knowing what it wanted to be.


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