Film Review : American Hustle (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 93%

10 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Director, Editing, Screenplay, and all acting categories

Directed By – David O. Russell
Starring – Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Jack Husto, Michael Pena, Shea Whigham, Elizabeth Rohm, and Robert De Niro

A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.

After weeks of procrastinating, I finally got out to see “American Hustle”. When I first saw the trailer I decided that it was going to be a film that I would have to wait for the right mood to see as I’m very conflicted on whether I like David O. Russell or not. Honestly, I think the ten Oscar nominations finally got me to get off my ass and see it. I still haven’t seen “The Fighter” and I waited until “Silver Linings Playbook” was released on blu ray to see it. I ended up liking SLP a lot but I still have a horrible taste in my mouth from my viewing of “I Heart Huckabees” which I considered pretentious crap. David O. Russell has always been a director who likes to throw the plot out of the window when he feels and while sometimes he makes the right decision, like last year, sometimes he makes a mistake, which I feel he did in small amounts during “American Hustle”. That being said, I actually enjoyed the film a lot, but that was due to the absolutely incredible cast and not so much the work of Mr. O. Russell. That sounds weird. Mr. Russell? Middle initials are weird.

This is listed as a comedy. I didn’t laugh much. There were a lot of instances where I said to myself, “this is where a laugh is supposed to be”, but it just didn’t happen. Christian Bale’s come over was where the comedy for me came from. I loved looking at it. It was a thing of beauty. I don’t know who the hairdresser was on set, but they must of had a great time putting that gorgeous thing together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I was sitting there sulking. I just didn’t laugh the way you’re supposed to in a supposed comedy, which is what this is supposed to be at heart. I could be wrong. Maybe this was supposed to be a semi serious crime drama, but if that is true then the marketing department owes me an apology because every promo spot I’ve seen screamed comedy in my face.

I read that most of the acting in the film was improvised to the point where the script had to be changed in order to make the improvisations work on film. It showed. The first two thirds of the film were all over the place. Characters came in and out and brought back later when you’ve forgotten who they were. Issues were brought up and then never solved or talked about again and motives of the main characters were unclear. It was just sloppy in parts and while it didn’t restrict me from enjoying the film, it certainly could have helped this film be one of the better this year. The thing that truly kept me in this film, was the acting.

The acting was fantastic. All four main stars, with all due respect to Jeremy Renner, deserved their Oscar nominations. I would even venture to say that Bradley Cooper deserved his in the Lead Acting category because he was just as important to the film as Christian Bale. To say he supported it is just wrong. When the nominations came out, I was surprised, along with man others, to see Cooper on the list. Everybody can eat it. Last year Cooper showed me that he can be a fantastic actor and he only solidified that with his performance in this. He was explosive. His “supporting” role partner Jennifer Lawrence stole every scene she was in. She played the logically challenged but secretly intelligent wife of Christian Bale perfectly. All the funny lines in the film were delivered by her. She’s the reason I’m going to start calling my microwave a science oven. Amy Adams was versatile as ever. She honestly can’t do anything wrong. Her British accent wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and she’s one of the few actors and actresses than can sell an audience merely by her eyes. She’s amazing at her craft. Finally, Christian Bale knocked it out of the park with his subtle portrayal as the Brooklyn con man who is too overweight and can’t see that he has a horrible haircut. He was quiet throughout most of the film but carried anybody who was in a scene with him by letting them overpower his character with theirs. He was like a great set up man in basketball, setting up the glory for everybody else but also being completely pivotal in the success around him.

The film really came together towards the end as there finally seemed to be a point to the script and it’s here that I finally accepted this film as a Best Picture nominee. It actually has a chance to win, although it shouldn’t, but it certainly belongs in the race. The acting was easily the best of the year if you factor in everybody involved. I didn’t even have time to mention Louis C.K. and Robert De Niro who were in the film only briefly but were great to see. It may not be a re watchable film for me, but it was a fun watch and I’m glad I finally went out to see it.

3.5/5




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2 thoughts on “Film Review : American Hustle (2013)

  1. Cooper should have been considered a lead actor, to call him a supporting actor in this film is a joke. Renner absolutely deserved a nod for his performance, he was brilliant, but his screen time didn’t hold a candle to the three leads, nor the outrageousness of Cooper and Lawrence’s over-the-top characters. Cooper faired much better in SLP than American Hustle, he was essentially just Pat again here but more hyper. It was not his best, nor (again) a supporting role, and he really should avoid the Pat-style character and doing any more Jlaw films for a while to avoid type. Alas, Renner continues to be the unsung hero of this awards season, and his Carmine continues to be a true standout in the film. My best of luck goes to Amy Adams at the Oscars.

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