David O. Russell has been knocking it out of the park as of late with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. Not only are his films getting rave reviews but his casts are all stepping up their games as well getting all sorts of nominations and wins. His latest American Hustle looks to continue this trend and is bringing some of the alumni from those films including Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence as well as Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. rounding out the cast. He’s got the cast and the track record, but does this film deliver?
American Hustle follows one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, of a brilliant con man who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner is forced to work for a wild FBI agent to bring down corrupt government officials and the mob. Caught in the middle is the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds and the con man’s unpredictable wife who could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. David o. Russell has hit the mark again with this film stepping out of his normal confines to create something more like a Scorsese film. The trailers play up the drama in the story and there is plenty of it, but thanks to the more comedic light hearted tone for most of the film it keeps it from ever feeling too heavy while still keeping its depth intact. The opening of the film sets the tone from the first frame as we witness Bale and his elaborate comb over as well as a tag line even pointing out that not everything here really happened. From that point forward you realize this film was going to be something unique and probably a bit out there and it doesn’t disappoint. The story plays off of the true life story, but allows it to morph into some sort of 70s period piece that really works in almost every level.
Bale brings this slimy con man to life creating yet another memorable character that he spent the time to make the full on physical transformation. Alongside Amy Adams sultry performance they form the perfect couple for this con and both give great performances. Cooper steps into what initially seems like a one dimensional character and descends into madness marking yet another excellent performance. Renner, C.K., and Lawrence round out the cast and all do great jobs, but it’s Lawrence who really stands out more than anyone. Every scene she is in she steals bringing to life this insanely strange sultry woman that could destroy everything they are working towards. Louis C.K. has been showcasing more diversity as of late and once again does a great job here making for a great punching bag for Cooper’s character. Everyone went full out here in both look and performance and looked like they were having a blast which in turn really helped to elevate the film even more. Add to this already great film and excellent soundtrack to take you into that 70s vibe along with some fun twists and Russell has crafted his masterpiece.
This is one of those films that people will no doubt recognize the brilliance of the acting across the board, but may not get the overall film. The trailers play up the dramatic aspect, but it’s the natural humor that really brings this film together, but may throw some people off if expecting a different kind of film. It’s been a while since we got a film like this and it is a welcome addition to the cinema and will no doubt be one to watch during awards season and rightly so across the board.