Friday, December 20, 2013

American Hustle Will Give You the Spins, Seventies Style!

American Hustle – Movie Review

By Anne Brodie Dec 19, 2013, 18:17 GMT
American Hustle – Movie Review A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock the States, "American Hustle" tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and ...more

 David O. Russell’s trippy homage to Goodfellas has the same kind of hallucinogenic verve and features an uncredited Robert De Niro as a spookily authentic Mafia boss.  American Hustle owes much of its style to the evergreen Scorsese mob outing except that it didn’t get the memo about making sense.  Either a direct homage, or a nostalgia piece, it’s got the pacing but forgot about the audience.  The actors are clearly enjoying themselves.
The ensemble performances are terrifically ballsy - Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner do some crazy s**t, man,  and art direction and dialogue are dead on, setting us square in the mobbed up New York and New Jersey of the seventies, but after all the hype American Hustle has enjoyed, it’s a letdown.  Its action packed, entertaining and audacious but it leaves no connection or emotional memory.
A couple of cons, a tubby Bale and out and out faker Adams get into a bind with their “entrepreneurial” business efforts which include dealing in stolen art, tricking investors and blackmailing.  They are having an affair on the side, even though he’s married (to Lawrence) with an adopted child.  He wooed Adams with free clothes left over at his cleaning business; together they look like they’re big time hustlers but it’s an image crafted out of cardboard and glue.
One of their victims (Cooper) is FBI; he busts them and could send them up the river on major federal charges. But he says the cases will disappear if they help him nail the mob and crooked politicians with their alleged connections. See where this is going?
Naturally they agree to help, but the relationship between the three is volatile. The agent and the lady become emotionally, but not physically involved - she promises him sex when he starts to matter to her or when they complete the job, different limitations depending on her whim – as they get deeper into mob trouble.  Bale`s characters gets wind of the budding romance and loses focus.
By now the agent`s drug use is taking over his brain and he’s out of control. Cooper is truly manic, in tight perm curlers, trying to convince Adams to have sex and his boss to keep throwing more resources – millions of dollars - his way so he can trap some juicy mobsters.
Russell`s film is wild, addled, muscular and vivid.  It is funny at times, and the cat fight between Lawrence and Adams is misogynistic and yet hysterical, and Lawrence the weakest-minded of the characters suddenly blossoms as perhaps the most cleverly conniving of them all.
The score and soundtrack are pretty slick featuring big radio and disco hits of the era and the clothes are great finds. But Russell has the women in blouses open down to here. How strange to remember that women did wear deep plunging necklines for everyday wear and that hair was piled up and sprayed into submission in some quarters and wild and free in others.  Best movie hairdo on Bradley Cooper since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Tight, TIGHT curls.
American Hustle is saturated with the seventies zeitgeist.  Perhaps people were less wary and more innocent then, easier to scam. It is saturated with American hustle, the kind of chutzpah that made American what it is today.  It’s fun but it’s not Goodfellas.
35mm drama Written by Eric Singer, David O. Russell Directed by David O. Russell Opens: 20 Dec Runtime: 138 minutes MPAA: 14A Country: USA Language: English
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