Monday, 6 January 2014

American Hustle

American Hustle, 2013
Directed by David O. Russell

American Hustle is based upon ABSCAM, a scandal and con that took place in the 1970's. Loosely based on those facts, we get the story of Irving Rosenfeld, Sydney Prosser and Richie DiMasso. Irving is a brilliant conman and when he meets Sydney Prosser at a party, a girl who is trying to find herself, they fall in love and start up a con business together. They are a loan business, and when they get caught by Richie DiMasso, an FBI agent, they are given a deal. If they perform four more "busts" for the FBI, they can walk. At first Irving and Sydney (known as Lady Edith Greensley to DiMasso) are hesitant, but then agree to do business. DiMasso, it turns out, wants in way too big. Pushing to entrap politicians and getting involved with the mob, Irving feels they've gone in way too deep. But it could be Irving's crazy wife Rosalyn who brings the busts crashing down with her talking to anyone and everyone, and not knowing all the details.

This film is one that blogger and Oscar predictors have had on their radar since it was announced, getting ever so excited with the cast, and the trailers. However, despite the amazing cast Russell put together, and his success with Silver Linings Playbook last year, this was never a film that really caught my interest. The synopsis I always found vague, as did the trailers. I never really knew what the film was about, and I started to wonder if it was really about anything.

Upon watching the film just before Christmas, I found that it still wasn't about very much. Sure, the film had an objective that was easy enough. The conmen/women need to make 4 busts for the FBI and they can walk. And yes, that did happen. But the story still felt rather vague, and never as well explained as it could have been.

While I found the screenplay extremely weak, it made up for it in it's performances. Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper are our three main players. Amy Adams, always charming in her roles, was sly and tricky. We never really knew where she was going or what she was thinking. And never quite knew if she even knew herself. Christian Bale, a little less harder to read, was openly uneasy about the whole operation, but was determinedly in love with Sydney. Bale is always so committed to his roles, and this is no differences. The weight, the hair, everything. Bradley Cooper, who surprised me with his acting chops last year, did another great job. Cooper seems to flourish playing the neurotic character, and again he is given a slightly more stable, though still neurotic role. He is desperate for fame and for power, and willing to do anything, and go way too far to achieve it.

As well we have Jeremy Renner, playing Carmine Polito, the enthusiastic and well-loved Mayor of Camden, NJ. He is a genuinely nice guy, who would do anything for his city. And last, we have Jennifer Lawrence, playing Irving's young and beautiful wife Rosalyn.

Personally, I felt Jennifer Lawrence was one of the best parts of the film. I know many people felt that (again) she was miscast and was way too young for the role before the film had come out. However, I felt Jennifer Lawrence was perfect for the role, and was such a riot. As wonderful as she is doing drama, she is equally as good in comedy, and this was her place to shine in that. Her part was small, and I know I could've used more of her as she always had me laughing.

The film was fun and you never really knew who was conning who anymore, but this movie felt too weak to win any major awards at this years Oscars. It was fun, and the costumes and hair were fantsticly horrible (in a good way). It was a character based film, but had Russell maybe taken more time with the screenplay and released it this year, it may've been a much stronger movie. The performances were fantastic, but it wasn't enough for me. Perhaps a second viewing will change my mind.

However, expect to see this up for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume, Best Film Editing and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Other possibilities include: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director.


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