Movie Review: American Hustle

Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his mistress Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are con-artists, and they’re good at it. In a time of financial crisis, they prey on desperate victims and scam them out of thousands of dollars. And then they try to scam Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent. Richie offers them a deal: they help him bring in five names, and they avoid jail. However, what begins as a small scale operation soon turns into a con within itself, and the trio find themselves struggling to keep their heads above water. When you add in Irving’s volatile wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence), a family centric mayor – Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) – from New Jersey just trying to improve the quality of life in his community, and a frustrated FBI boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.), you have the potential for a lot of things to go wrong.

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I’ll be honest: I don’t completely understand the hype surrounding American Hustle. It was good, but not “holy crap that was the best movie I’ve seen this year/ever” good. Part of this feeling stems from the fact that the ending of the film is abrupt and in many ways, depressing. The film is, however, extremely powerful in its portrayal of reality; under the elaborate cons and huge parties, it shows real consequences and the stories behind many of the characters.

A recurring theme throughout the movie was Stoddard telling Richie a story about ice-fishing in his youth. The joke is that Richie always assumes the moral to suit his circumstances and leaves as quickly as he can, before Stoddard can actually finish telling the tale. But the movie ends before we actually find out the ending to the story. It’s a minor point that’s not at all relevant to the overall film, but it piked my curiosity and I left the cinema feeling frustrated at the teasing. It was things like this, and the too-realistic portrayal of some of the characters (especially Carmine, my heart broke at the injustice he faced), that made me not Love the film, rather than the overall film in itself.

Jennifer Lawrence was perfect as the crazy wife, as was to be expected. The film is directed by David O. Russell, who also directed Silver Linings Playbook  (also starring Lawrence and Cooper). While Silver Linings Playbook centered around mental illness, and American Hustle does not, I found that in many ways the pair played similar characters in both films.

There is a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding the film, and while I agree that some of the actors should win for their parts (especially Lawrence and Bale), the film as a whole is not Best Picture material (then again, I didn’t think Argo was All That either, and it won this year – maybe I’m just not a good film critic). Amy Adams’ boobs also deserve an Oscar, because wow she wore some plunging dresses.

If you want to see what all the Hype is about, go and see it, but at this time of year, you’re not exactly lacking other options.

Rating: 3/5

American Hustle is out now in Australian cinemas, through Roadshow Films. 

frangipani princess xoxo

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