American Hustle (2013)

american hustle IMDb

Ben
A cast this good should be illegal. There are so many Oscar winners here, and even more nominees. Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner make a terrific cast and they work together well. They are all overshadowed though by current ‘it girl’ Jennifer Lawrence. She is great as Bale’s sometimes lover and deserves all the Oscar attention she received for the role. She ended up not winning the Oscar, but that should not take away from what is a fantastic performance in a great ensemble cast.

This tale of cons and conmen in the 70s follows Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams), two con artists who earn a good living duping people into investing with them and then just keeping the money while claiming it was lost. Eventually, they are caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper). Rather than put them in jail, Richie offers the pair an opportunity to get out of jail by helping him catch other con artists and crooks. Irving and Sydney reluctantly accept and they attempt to bring down crooked Mayor, Carmine Polito (Renner). Things get awkward when Irving and Carmine become very close friends, making Irving start to regret his choice to bring Carmine down. Along for the ride is Irving’s outrageous wife, Rosalyn (Lawrence). She is a space cadet, but Irving cares for her child so he won’t risk leaving her as the boy would be on his own with nobody but his crazy mother.

This film is worth seeing for the cast alone. I can’t remember such a solid ensemble being in the one film for a long time. The closest I can think of would be Ocean’s 11. Every cast member shines, especially Bale and Lawrence. I really love the way Christian Bale just dives right into his roles. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for him to constantly be losing or gaining weight for a role. His dedication to the character is something to behold. Jennifer Lawrence also shines as Irving’s somewhat nutty wife. She is the best young actress in Hollywood at the moment and has added another film here to reinforce that status. The banter between Bale and Lawrence is one of the film’s highlights. My personal favourite is when Carmine gives them a brand new microwave and when Rosalyn destroys it after putting metal in it, they have a big argument about how she destroyed the ‘science oven’. It is a great scene, as it most of the ones they share.

All of the four main cast members were nominated for Oscars this year, this is a rare achievement for a film. It is also worth noting that all of the main cast have at one time or another been a part of a comic book franchise. Bale (Batman), Adams (Man of Steel‘s Lois Lane), Renner (Hawkeye in The Avengers), Cooper (Rocket Racoon in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy) and Lawrence (Mystique in X-Men) are all solid actors that have entered the comic book movie genre. As a fan of comic book movies, I really love that the genre can attract people of this calibre. It is so different than it was a few years ago where comic book movies were not taken seriously by respectable actors.

American Hustle is a great movie. If you like terrific acting and an intriguing story then you will not be disappointed.

Rating: A-


Sally
Let’s be honest– the plot of American Hustle is a tad bloated and hard to follow at times. But I really don’t care. The cast of this film is so superb that it makes the movie incredibly entertaining.

This seems to be David O. Russell’s thing though, assembling a killer cast and focusing on character development to hide the shortcomings of an otherwise average script. While I enjoyed his last outing, Silver Linings Playbook, I couldn’t help but think that in the hands of any other director and cast it wouldn’t have been Oscar material. I had the same feeling when I left the theater after American Hustle. It’s a funny, well acted movie, but the plot is almost secondary to everything else.

When I think about this movie I don’t think about con artists or corrupt politicians. All I remember is hair, breasts, and the science oven. The visuals Russell creates are mesmerizing. I never thought I’d be so entertained watching a paunchy Christian Bale create an elaborate combover, or Jennifer Lawrence angry-cleaning a living room to Wing’s “Live and Let Die,” or seeing Bradley Cooper wearing curlers. Everything is so perfectly 1970s right down to the nail polish, and it’s impossible not to watch.

As I said before, Russell knows how to assemble a stellar cast. Christian Bale and Amy Adams star as a couple of con artists who are forced to help an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) take down corrupt politicians. Jennifer Lawrence also stars as Bale’s unstable young wife, and Jeremy Renner appears as a New Jersey mayor. Everyone is excellent, though Adams feels like the weak link. It’s not that she’s bad, it’s that everyone else gives such great performances that her’s is easily forgotten in the mix. This is definitely Bale and Lawrence’s film though, everyone else pales in comparison to them.

Rating: B+

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