Tuesday, December 24, 2013

American Hustle - My Review

American Hustle  -  2013  -  Directed by David O. Russell

Much has been made of the fact that David O. Russell's new film, based on the ABSCAM scandal of the 70's, resembles that of Martin Scorsese's classic, Goodfellas. I think stylistically it more resembles Boogie Nights. Regardless, one thing is for sure, it is no where near as good as either film.

The film centers on Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a small time con-man, who despite being married to Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence), meets his muse in Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), another not shy to scams, and they both pair up in love and business. All is going well for them until they meet Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper.)

Richie is FBI. Richie has just set them up and Sydney took the bait. She is on the hook facing jail time and he gets Sydney and Irving to agree to help him make a few busts and in return he will drop all charges. Problem is, Richie has aspirations. Big ones. And he's willing to do anything to achieve them. Irving correctly observes that jail would be better than dealing with Richie.

While the trio setup their first bust they stumble upon a big fish, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a Mayor looking to upgrade Atlantic City and pad his pockets. Irving is nervous and wants out. Sydney wants Irving to pay for not leaving his wife. Rosalyn wants 
Irving to pay for not leaving Sydney. Carmine wants to be loved by all and Richie wants to be boss. What could go wrong?

While it may not be the most original setup it still had promise but Director Russell throws it away in his attempt to mimic the style and look and feel of other films instead of creating something unique. 

Its as if someone tried to write a script to sound like David Mamet wrote it. To place the camera where Martin Scorsese would. To use music as Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson do. The whole thing feels like a rip off. When Layla started playing in Goodfellas, it evoked a feeling. The music that plays here is filling in for lack of story.

Its a shame cause all the actors brought their A game (except Renner who is woefully miscast.) Lawrence is great in minimal screen time and its no wonder why Irving fell for her and then fell out of love with her. Cooper evokes the sleaziness of his Richie who is one step away from being a con man himself. Bale removes all vanity and gives one of the best performances of his career. Amy Adams is a firecracker ready to go off and is a true revelation. This is her best work to date.

Russell has been on record stating he doesn't like plots, only characters. While a movie doesn't need a plot, it does need style. This film has neither. Considering the hype and the extraordinary performances, this is a big let down.

Rating: 5 out of 10

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