After a long contemplative spell, I have decided to revive my film blog. Y’know, with reviews and the like. And so, let’s kick off 2014 with this little gem.
American Hustle is the latest film by David O. Russell, who directed 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook. Con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are roped into helping ambitious FBI agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) into catching (possibly corrupt) politicians, including the good-natured Mayor of Camden, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). The couple struggles to keep their feelings in tact as the scam becomes increasingly intricate, especially as Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) inadvertently becomes involved.
I have to admit, I wasn’t a big fan of Silver Linings Playbook. It was a watchable film but it didn’t really blow my mind but seeing the impressive cast ensemble for American Hustle, it looked too appealing to pass up. Even though it tries to play on the scam strengths that made the 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven so great, the film unfortunately doesn’t have the stability to support its stellar cast. There comes a point where there is a case of ‘who’s conning whom?’ – which some people might appreciate – but as the depth of the con begins to build, the original purpose of Irving and Sydney’s role in the scam almost gets lost, ultimately losing track of what is driving the story.
It is easy to say that the cast is the key selling point of Hustle. Bale brings in his weight-gaining expertise to play bloated-bellied Irving, giving eager and permed pup Cooper and all-round good guy Renner a run for their money in the hairstyle stakes. Each of the guys juggle with their loyalties yet they bring in a comical likeability, regardless of their character’s intentions. Adams and Lawrence, however, shine over the boys – equally glamourous in their 70’s gear but while Adams plays sexpot Sydney with doe-eyed vulnerability, Lawrence relies on snake-tongued snark and definitely delivers one of her best performances in her short yet prolific career. What is also great is how the film looks – even before it starts, the old-school style studio credits are enough to ring the nostalgia bell and thanks to everything from the costumes to the sultry soundtrack, it does indeed look and sound fabulous.
American Hustle is an early hit for 2014 and a possible frontrunner for this year’s award season. The story stumbles ever so slight but it is ultimately fun, brilliantly acted and incredibly stylish. Oscar glory beckons.
Thanks for reading.