14A) American Hustle
Running Time: 138 Minutes
3 stars out of 4.
The opening titles of American Hustle read: "Some of this actually happened."Director David O. Russell has become one of the best directors working today after his directing comeback with 2010's The Fighter, and 2012's Silver Linings Playbook. Both critically and commercially acclaimed films, the two garnered O.Russell Best Director Oscar nominations. Interestingly, last years Silver Linings Playbook became the first film in thirty years to have acting nominations in all four acting categories. Jennifer Lawrence eventually took home the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal as Tiffany Maxwell. One year later, David O. Russell has pulled a Woody Allen on us, by directing back to back films in one year. David O. Russell's latest film titled American Hustle, was highly anticipated by audiences, as it reunites him with Amy Adams and Christian Bale from The Fighter, and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from Silver Linings Playbook. American Hustle has been called the third film in David O. Russell's career reinvention. American Hustle has been called an Oscar frontrunner in many categories, and I am pleased to tell you the film lives up to the hype, and is a great companion piece to Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. American Hustle is a funny, raw, emotional, and surprisingly personal film, that is very high up on my list of the years best films
In American Hustle, con artists Irving Rosenfeld, and his british partner Sydney Prosser, are forced to work with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), to find and eventually arrest corrupt New Jersey politicians. But, Irving's unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the person who foils the operation. American Hustle is unpredictable, with a well written yet very complex narrative. This is far from a straightforward film, as screenwriters Erric Singer and David O. Russell, force you to remember certain plot details and elements, throughout the entire film.
With an A-List cast, you would expect top notch performances, and everyone delivers. Christian Bale is phenomenal as Irving, he gained 40lbs for this role, and fits the part well. Bale has great chemistry with Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence, and does not give an over the top performance, as he is rather subtle throughout the entire film. Amy Adams is great as seductive Sydney Prosser, a former stripper who reinvents herself, and becomes one of the best con artists in the country, so good that her and Irving are forced to work for the FBI. Adams pulls off a believable British accent, and manages playing two different personas with easer. This is one of her best performances to date, and she deserves a Best Actress Oscar Nomination. Bradley Cooper, continues his run of great performances in great movies (except Hangover III), this time playing FBI agent Richie DiMas. Cooper had tough part to play he pulls it off, though he almost always out shined by Christian Bale, and Amy Adams characters. There is a scene where Cooper must imitate his FBI boss played by Louis C.K, and it is so funny, and so good, and garnered alot of laughs at the screening I was at. In a smaller role, Jeremy Renner does a nice job, as Mayor Carmine Polito, especially in the characters final scene, where you cant help feel for him and what he has gone through. Jennifer Lawrence, deserves an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress, as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, she is simply fantastic and very believable. Lawrence pulls of the Bronx accent with ease, and I agree with the critics that say this is the role she was born to play. 23 year old Lawrence, holds her own when on screen with Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. Rosalyn, is such a crazy and unpredictable character, and the words that come out of her mouth, are hilarious but also make sense. Rosalyn is smart, and many of the films best moments include her. In a smaller role, Lawrence shows she can really do anything. Just a months ago in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, she played female heroin Katniss Everdeen, a beacon for social change, and now she is believable playing a 70's housewife to Irving Rosenfeld, who uses their son so that Irving will not divorce her. In Irving and Rosenfelds fight, Lawrence is forced to be very sad and angry, to being very happy, almost within a matter of a few seconds, and she pulls it off. Just one year after Winning Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence could very well repeat as a winner, and I do not think anyone could disagree that she simply brilliant in this picture. American Hustle features one of the best ensemble of the year, bar none.
American Hustle does not tell a simple story, it has characters that are all larger than life, but as Jennifer Lawrence said: "Are all struggling to find their own happy endings." Although, at times the story becomes a bit muddled and confusing, you are than easily able to absorb what is going on, even if it takes a few minutes. As co-screenwriter and director, David O. Russell had a tough job balancing the many tones of the film, but in the final product all the tones work very well with the film. I credit the cinemtography in the film, as O. Russell almost never uses multi camera technique, for reaction shots, or character movement, but instead uses camera panning around the setting.
The soundtrack, costumes, and production design, also deserve praise. The film looks like and sounds very 70's like, and the colour palette only adds to that. There are so many great songs in the film, and especially a montage featuring a Led Zeplin song is very good.
The ensemble, particularly Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence, along with David O. Russell's vibrant and stylistic direction is what carry the film. Although, the narrative becomes muddled and confusing at times, you can forgive that, and despite that it takes a few minutes, you end up understanding what is going on. The film might take a little too long to get setup, but once everything is setup and the operation begins, you are invested and glued to the screen until the credits roll.