Coming off of the back of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter director David O.Russell’s American Hustle is a well acted and visually beautiful film that lacks the depth seen in his previous work.
Based loosely off of the FBI ABSCAM operation in the late 70’s the film follows a sting operation headed by “Richie” DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Agent DiMaso forces con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) to help him with the operation to catch corrupt members of public office. The film also stars Jennifer Lawrence as Irving’s off the rails wife Rosalyn, stand up comedian Louis C.K and Jeremy Renner.
If one has been following the awards season you would have noticed that the film won 3 Golden Globes in the comedy section. Winning best picture and both actress awards within this sectio. However, this really misrepresents the film. It is not a comedy, at it’s heart it is a good old fashioned crime drama. It does have comedic elements that derive from the crazy characters and the absurd situations they have got themselves into. Jennifer Lawrence really shines as a ‘comedic’ actress in the film dominating in some of the funniest scenes (including this brilliant scene about a science oven). Louis C.K is also a highlight and a pleasant surprise as he has a much larger role than I expected and he flawless in his delivery.
Anything for the cause.
The more dramatic parts are extremely well acted as well. Christian Bale is unrecognisable as Irving and it just proves how far he is willing to for a film. It is hard to believe that the fat slob on screen was the goddamn batman 1 ½ years ago. His acting is brilliant and he is truly believable as a con artist. Amy Adams once agains shows that she is perhaps one of the most consistent actresses in Hollywood giving an oscar nominated performance (her 5th) to the most complex character in the film. She is brilliant. Bradley Cooper, also gives an intense performance and it shows that he has thrown off his reputation as a comedy pretty boy. Across the board the acting is great with all 4 main characters picking up oscar nominations.
Unfortunately this is a film that has more style than substance. The plot lacks the depth seen other O.Russell films and it seems lacking in some areas. The style of the film is great however. The costumes are brilliant ranging from mental suits to crazier dresses. Similarly the hair and costumes are great looking and really help pull the film together. The visual style is mixed with a wonderful soundtrack including songs from Tom Jones, Donna Summers and Elton John. The mixture between the soundtrack and aesthetic really helps create a fully immersive world.
Overall, the film is a great piece of filmmaking. There is a reason this film is nominated for 10 oscars this season (best picture, best director, best original screenplay, all 4 actor categories, costume design, editing and production design) because it is a great film. However, it is unlikely that it will walk away with a large amount of oscars with stiff competition from The Wolf on Wall Street and 12 Years a Slave.