American Hustle (2013) is a much anticipated film of the year as it pairs up the familiar team of David O’Russell, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Shea Whigham. These individuals are the same ones responsible for Silver Linings Playbook (2012), a film that swept nominations and awards the year prior for its incredible storytelling. American Hustle added a few new A-Listers to its roster, including Christian Bale (The Fighter), Amy Adams (The Master), and Jeremy Renner (The Avengers). With a creative team that is continually lauded with Oscar nods and repetitively celebrated for their work, one would expect this film to be the cream of the crop. Instead, it has a confused narrative and miscast actors.
The film largely feels as though it was made because these individuals simply wanted to work together again, rather than artists reuniting due to a compelling script. As a result, much of the movie is gratuitous, making the audience feel as though they are not “in” on the joke that the whole cast seems to get. For instance, in the scene where Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) is at home with his mother and his supposed fiancé, the audience gets the only glimpse they will have into his personal life. This scene should function as a window to his soul, but instead makes his character into more of a farce. The discussion with his mother should reveal his motivation for why he is doing what he is doing, but it feels forced and not strong enough to compel the events that unfold. In fact, the mother does not seem to care one way or another.
It is not Bradley Cooper’s fault, however. His innate aura is completely antithetical of what DiMaso’s should be. He would have been better suited to play Carmine Polito, the likeable mayor who gets mixed up in business he cannot control. All of the other actors seem out of place in their roles as well, except for Jennifer Lawrence. Though their performances are decent, it simply does not feel natural. Coupled with this fact are the horrible hair styles and costuming that undermine the actors at every moment, reminding the audience that this film is not real. As a result, the audience is not brought into the world of the movie, which is the complete opposite for Silver Linings Playbook and what made SLP so popular. As a result, American Hustle is a quite a letdown for fans.