Review: American Hustle

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American Hustle is am American dramedy directed by David O’Russell and written by Eric Warren Singing and David O’Russell. It has a wonderful ensemble cast, starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and  Bradley Cooper. It was released in the US December 13, 2013. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

American Hustle opens with a black screen and the words, “Some of this actually happened.” Which is, I think ,a great way to start a movie. It tells the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner (and muse) Sydney Prosser (Adams) as they are forced to work for the unhinged FBI agent, Richie DeMaso (Cooper). To add to the fun, we have Mayor Carmine Polito (Renner), a great guy who Richie DeMaso has decided to screw over to further his career, and Rosalyn (Lawrence), who is Rosenfeld’s nutso crazy wife. The plot is fun, the opening is fun. I was very prepared to love this movie.

The movie is fast paced and ridiculous, but I was underwhelmed. It was certainly a good movie, but for all it had going for it, I thought it would be better. I will admit, I have never connected to David O’Russell films (I thought the Fighter was okay, but I did quite like Silver Linings Playbook). I appreciate how this story is told, in that sort of awkward quirky everyone-in-this-movie-is-nuts sort of way. It also had several great acting moments. For all the hype around Jennifer Lawrence (don’t get me wrong, I love her and she was really good), the best performance, for me, would have to go to Christian Bale.

The cinematography (by Linus Sandgren) was awkward and, at times, pointless. The screenplay was clever, the acting was great. My favorite thing about this movie was Louis C.K. He had kind of a bit part, appearing throughout the film as Bradley Cooper’s boss. Throughout the movie, he was telling Cooper a story about ice fishing. I was more interested in that story than the actual movie, and i was a bit disappointed that we never got to hear the end of it. But, as it was allegory, I think I can guess.

Overall, I really, really wanted to like this movie. As much as I disliked it, I do have to admit that it was, technically, quite a good movie. And for that reason, my rating is as follows:

star7/10

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12 comments

  1. I found this movie anything but fast-paced, actually. I was expecting a fast-paced, action-packed casino heist or something of the sort, and instead it just dragged and was confusing and dull with a few moments of saving humour. The characters were interestingly complex with many moral shades of grey, but that wasn’t enough to make me like it. I was largely underwhelmed by it. I think this review of it is very perceptive and mostly tallies with my own view, whilst pinpointing a few weak points that I hadn’t picked up on consciously: http://www.whitecoffeemagazine.com/2014/cinema-review-american-hustle/

    1. Thank you for commenting. I’ve found the opinions on this movie are generally split: people either loves it or thought it was kind of okay. I haven’t seen anyone hate yet, but, you know.

  2. Good review! It’s great you can review a film that you yourself didn’t like but can see it’s good parts. I think Bale was brilliant and completely stole the show. You could have just had him on his own. He is a superb actor. I enjoyed the film, but i couldn’t see me wanting to watch it too many times.

    1. Thanks! Indeed. I kind of want to watch it again at some point to see if my opinion of it changes. I think I watched it right after Gravity, so it could have been carry-over disappointment from Gravity. I don’t actually remember. Do you ever feel the need to watch a movie you didn’t like a second time, just to make sure?

      1. No I have never felt like that! Films like seven psychopaths and only god forgives are films I know I don’t want to see again. I often watch films again if I am unclear about them or in order to concentrate on another aspect of it. Sometimes, well quite a lot of the time I make a decision while I’m writing a review. I generally know whether I like a film or not, but the reasons become clearer as I write.

        1. I never saw either of those movies, but Only God Forgives has been highly recommended to me (at least, i think it was that one). For me, the only indication that I will never watch a movie again is if I never finish watching it in the first place. If I hate it that much I will just give up right in the middle. Like Batman Returns (I know the comics and i had already seen the dark knight, so by that point it was just offensive) and Starship Troopers (becasue they killed the wrong girl). Otherwise, I want to say I’ve watched things at least twice. I’m generally the same way when it comes to writing a review – I prefer to talk about a movie right after I see it, but there’s a special sort of clarity that comes about with writing. =]

          1. I write about film because I love to write and I love film. Film is something that I want to go into, so I especially love to take the time to try to analyze movies that I like or don’t like and really think about why. It’s also really nice to see what other people think about movies. So, basically, I like writing, I like movies, and i like the discussion. What about you?

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