Hilariously terrible comb-over’s, copious amounts of cleavage and science ovens – American Hustle is a fabulous start to 2014 cinema. Director David O.Russell, the man behind the gem of a film, Silver Linings Playbook and the equally entertaining The Fighter teams up with writer Eric Singer to produce this killer script. Based on the true events of the FBI Abscam scandal where notoriously good con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are forced to work for wild agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to catch out some crooks for themselves. If you want a job done properly, send in the crook to draw out the crook. And that’s the crux of the story.
Most cinema goers will probably be enticed by the names and faces on the films poster, and so they should. Unlike the disappointing turnout of The Counsellor, American Hustle is the whole package. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how many A-class actors you throw onto one set, if the script isn’t up to spec it won’t translate on screen. Poor script writing aside, the main negative points people are harping on about here, are the longevity of the film and the little to no action we see on screen. Except, this film didn’t need it. It didn’t need action and it needed a long running time. The lines this all star cast were provided with and the way they deliver them on screen is more than enough to keep you intrigued for 138 minutes. This is dialogue heavy and more an exploration of insecure human beings (becoming quite a trait of Russell’s) rather than a con movie heavily reliant upon gunfire.
Every character we see is a hustler. They are manipulative tricksters that make sure they get what they want. Who better to play the ultimate con-artist that Christian Bale, the man utterly dedicated to his work. Once again he illustrates exactly how far he is willing to go in perusing a role. Most notably here it is his protruding gut that hits you in the face (quite a bit different to his various physique we have seen in the past). His air of confidence speech bounce of off rising star Jennifer Lawrence’s unhinged and out of control version of motherhood, who plays his unpredictable wife Rosalyn with a crazy glint in her eye. Acting alongside Bale as his seductive partner in crime is the strong willed and courageous Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams. And boy does she show us what she can do here – expect greater things from this fiery red head in the future. The poor man the FBI is trying to frame is the major of New Jersey Carmine Polito played Jeremy Renner who brings his best performance since The Hurt Locker. But the man who steals the show is funny man, Bradley Cooper. Cooper takes on the role of this crocked, self-obsessed tight curled hair agent by the rollers. This has to be this man’s finest screen time to date. Acting as this crazed, disco-dancing nut job that is arguably the most corrupt character we see on screen.
American Hustle is no mean perfect in execution, yet this seems to work seamlessly with the narratives intentions. Capturing the late 70’s early 80’s vibe down to a T, everyone glistens in their costumes. This is laced with great lines giving an equal balance between comedy and seriousness.
With inescapable connections between Ocean’s Eleven, Argo and most notably Goodfellas, American Hustle is up there with all mobster con films (with a sneaky cameo from De Niro). A must see for the New Year.