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Sunday, 27 April 2014

American Hustle review

‘American Hustle’ has more stars in it than a map of the galaxy has, which is something that those in charge of the promotion of the film haven’t neglected to remind audiences at every possible turn. What they fail to inform audiences of, however, is the plot. So, allow me to fill you in…

Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) is a ruthless con-man, stealing money from desperate individuals by pretending to get them loans in exchange for a mere $5,000 deposit. When Irving falls for a woman named Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), business really takes off. The pair make unprecedented amounts of money until ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) bursts onto the scene, threatening to bust them unless they help him put others behind bars. Things soon escalate when Mayor of New Jersey Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) enters the scene. Rosenfield quickly bonds with Polito, causing a moral dilemma: should he set him up for arrest, or warn him that the cops are onto his plans and tip him off?

The plot seems heavy-handed when written down, but remarkably vacant upon actual viewing. Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because as far as I’m concerned, this is a character piece. The plot plays second fiddle to characterisation, and when you have an ensemble this strong, I don’t think that’s necessarily a weakness.

Christian Bale is unrecognisable as Irving, in both appearance and performance. He somehow manages to exude a level of warmth that makes this character somewhat sympathetic, despite his thieving and adulterous ways. The chemistry between Adams and Cooper was electrifying, and the opening scene between Adams, Cooper and Bale set up the tone for the rest of the film quite nicely. For me, the highlight was Lawrence’s fantastic portrayal of Rosalyn Rosenfield. The character is like a puzzle that you’re dying to piece together and understand, and Jennifer Lawrence completely brought her to life, in her own unique way. From the science oven to the bathroom scene between her and Adams, I don’t think there’s a single scene that Lawrence doesn’t steal by appearing in it. Whether you agree with critics who say that the age difference between Rosalyn and Irving takes away from the magic or not, you’ve got to admit, the majority of the film’s charm and depth comes from Rosalyn.

Speaking of Lawrence, particular praise has to go to the film’s wardrobe department, who had to deal with the actress’ tendency to get dorito dust all over her costumes (they made several duplicates, just incase she had to change due to a food-related mishap). The hair, make-up, set and costume departments all played a major role in the success of this film. They allowed the viewer to become completely absorbed in the world of the late 1970′s. Another thing that contributed to this absorbing atmosphere is the soundtrack, which is not only wonderfully fitting with the movie, but also utterly fantastic as a stand alone piece.

‘American Hustle’ may not be as much of a crowd-pleaser as O’Russell’s previous film ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, but if you prefer fully-formed characters and fun scenes to well-developed plots, then this may just be good watch for you.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review, Lauren.

    I too liked this movie. Chris Bale is fantastic as always.