Sunday, December 29, 2013

REVIEW: American Hustle

American Hustle

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper


December 13, 2013 (NY/LA)
December 20, 2013 (WIDE)

David O. Russell

Columbia Pictures

2 hours 18 minutes



David O. Russell has really been making a name for himself with "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings Playbook" respectively.  Not only is he able to successfully give his actors the opportunity to give Oscar winning performances, but he's also able to tell a story that flows and strikes with every scene put on screen.  This can be said for not only his previous two films, but also for his latest flick "American Hustle."  Telling the story of a conman and a prostitute being forced to work with an FBI agent in order  to fulfill the FBI agent's personal "duties," "Hustle" brings sly humor and some colorful characters to this dark world of greed, jealousy, sex, and violence.  And for the most part, the result is a pretty entertaining movie to watch from start to finish.

The best thing about this film, by far, is Christian Bale's performance as conman Irving Rosenfeld.  Bale not only physically got into this role, but he is so believable as this sleazy yet charismatic conman who can even show his sensitive side once in a while.  Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper also play their parts really well, with Adams pulling off both a sly wit to her character and a classy British accent in certain scenes, and Cooper just overall having a good presence on screen and is just entertaining to watch to say the least.  Jeremy Renner was really good in the film, but he wasn't really as engaging or as entertaining as Bale or Cooper.  As for Jennifer Lawrence, I thought she was good in the film, but she was way too over the top in parts, and just seemed to be trying to steal every scene she was in.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it took me out of the film to an extent.  Michael Pena, Louis C.K., and one particular Oscar winner all make appearances in the film, and they are all good as well.  There are no bad performances in the film whatsoever, but I felt that it was Bale who really stole the show.

O. Russell definitely shows that he is a talented filmmaker by getting the best performances out of the actors he's working with, as well as being able to tell solid stories in general.  My one problem with his style of directing is that he love to zoom in on his actors a little more often than I'd prefer.  It's one thing to do a zoom in so it shows a character reacting to something that makes a huge impact on the plot.  However, when he does it once every 15 or so minutes just for the hell of it, then it aggravates me.  I'm most likely in the minority on this opinion, but this is merely a nitpick in an otherwise fun flick.  Plus the script that Russell co-wrote with Eric Warren Singer is fresh, clever, and often very funny.

While this film isn't remotely along the lines of O. Russell's previous movie "Silver Linings Playbook," "American Hustle" plays out like a solid caper that drags on a little bit, but is overall a lot of fun to watch.  The acting is great, particularly from Christian Bale and Amy Adams who really get lost in these crazy roles.  The direction from David O. Russell might be repetitive with its zoom in shots, but overall he gives the film a very rich look and feel to it and makes you believe that you are indeed in the 70s.  And the script that Russell co-wrote helps out with that 70s vibe as well.  While it might not be the best movie of 2013, "American Hustle" is still worth your time and is a very entertaining caper flick.


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