For some reason my review of this film has been sitting in my inbox for longer than should have. But never you mind, I am on it now so without further ado …
Image: Sony Pictures
To quickly recap, American Hustle is the latest outing for director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and is based in part the actual FBI ABSCAM operation (look it up for the deets) that took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The films stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as New York City con artists ‘strongly encouraged’ to work with agent Bradley Cooper or face the full wrath of the feds. Their job? To take part in a multi-layered sting operation to catch corrupt politicians in the act. One target is the popular mayor of Camden, New Jersey (played by Jeremy Renner). Rounding out the cast is Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s neurotic wife, who among many of her idiosyncrasies, really loves the smell of a particular brand of nail polish. (Source: Wikipedia)
There are several things to like about the film, including:
- The performances: all the actors acquit themselves quite well., which should come as no surprise given the talent Russell has assembled.
- Authenticity: a problem with a film like this is that it can fall prey to is creating a lack of ‘trueness’ to the time and place presented in the story. From the costuming, hair, makeup, music, EVERYTHING frankly, American Hustle nailed the era down to a tee.
- Equilibrium: American Hustle balanced the comedic and dramatic elements of the narrative very well. I know that it is a dramatization of actual events, but if there was an inkling of these happenings in the true account of the operation, I can easily see how the dramatic tension of the situation can be balanced with some levity. After all, truth is often stranger than fiction.
- Things are not always as they appear. There are some very pleasant (and unexpected) twists and revelations to the plot that will keep you engaged in where the story is going.
Now onto the bad(ish) news. Oddly enough, my reservations almost have nothing to do with the film itself as much as to my response to the praise and accolades thrust upon it subsequent to its release. I admit my bias but when I compare it to the other noteworthy films (that I have seen) of 2013, American Hustle lacks the gravitas of these films it is competing for several awards with. Is it entirely fair for me to base my reservations solely on this? As I stated, probably not, but it is a feeling that I had when leaving the cinema and has stuck with me ever since.
I hope in reading this assessment, your want to see this picture is not diminished, because, again, it is a really entertaining cinematic excursion. I only lead with this bit of advice: sit back and take it for what it is …
How do you feel about American Hustle? Hit the comments section to share your thoughts and views.