Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a good one this year.
Now, if you have been following this blog, you will know that I was very much looking forward to American Hustle … and if you haven’t been following, why the heck not, this stuff is golden! (button down below, please press it!). I was a little disappointed that I had to wait until the new year to see it … advertising a 20th of December release date, and then only showing it in the West End on that date was rather annoying.
Alas, it finally hit cinemas on January 1st (In the UK) and I was there on opening day to see what this film had in store for me.
Best place to start, is that I really enjoyed this film … thankfully! I had very high expectations, which always brings the danger of not being lived up to. But no, this film performed how I had hoped and is definitely worth a watch. Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con artist, who, along with his partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), are caught out by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and forced to work for him to catch out crooked politicians.
The story doesn’t get going immediately, as director David O. Russell spends some time on character development for the audience. This may feel like it takes a little too long, but it really is necessary for the rest of the film, and as the film progresses you will be thankful to O. Russell that he took that bit of extra time to get you acquainted with these characters.
The story is a good one, it is far from predictable, and one that begs to be watched. However, it is the characters that really make this movie. Every single one is a fantastic creation and adds so much to the film – the film is loosely based on real events, and so some of the characters are also based on real people. In reality, you really shouldn’t like any of these characters, they are manipulative, selfish, and a few are criminals … but you just can’t help yourself! First off, Christian Bale’s Irving is instantly likeable, and probably the most sane of the ensemble! Playing the lead con man, Bale has piled on the weight and dons a very elaborate toupee! He has got the voice, the mannerisms, the whole persona absolutely perfect and is the stand out performance for me. Christian Bale is fantastic in everything though, he changes characters better than almost anyone, lining up all of his characters it is hard to see how the same man has played them all, from Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman), to Dicky Ecklund (The Fighter), to Trevor Reznik (The Machinist) etc etc … Bale doesn’t only change character personality well, he physically adapts to the role, dropping ridiculous amounts of weight and then bulking back up, and then dropping weight again … this time round he had the luxury of gaining 40lbs! But I won’t keep banging on about Christian Bale … I could write a whole post just on his work!
The rest of the cast are great … Amy Adams flip-flopped throughout the film, going from me incredibly liking her, to absolutely despising her – a sign of a well written, complex character. Bradley Cooper’s Richie is almost as instantly dislikeable as Irving is likeable – incredibly manipulative, power hungry, almost insane, Richie has more common traits of a con man than the actual con artists! Jeremy Renner is used well, as the nicest corrupt politician ever, Carmine Polito … Poor Carmine, you can’t help but feel bad for the poor guy! And finally, the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence rounds up the main players, although with a fairly small role, she is great whenever on the screen – probably the most unstable of the set of characters, she will drive you insane, and then 2 seconds later have you laughing out loud!
A shout out also has to be given to Louis C.K who, again had a very small role, was absolutely hilarious every time he came on screen, as well as Michael Pena, who also saw very little screen time but used it to great effect. P.S watch out for a pretty big name who makes an appearance, which was kept well under wraps.
The story, although is far from a comedy is funny throughout. The humour is very dry for the most part, so if you have a dry sense of humour then you will appreciate American Hustle even more, and if you don’t – don’t worry, you will still get enjoyment out of the film, as the story is so good – rich and compelling (also there are a few hysterical moments, so you will laugh at some point!). This film is also almost a closer study of Psychopaths than Bale’s American Psycho from 2000 – just about every character displays the traits of a classic psychopath at one point or another, and as the story plays out you will become more and more intrigued with these characters. On a side note – the film also visually looks fantastic – they have done a great job of re-creating the 70’s, not just with the fantastic costumes, but the whole look and feel seems spot on (Not that I was around in the 70s, so might be wrong on that one!)
David O. Russell has done another great job, and the fact he has stuck with pairings he has used before has only helped add to the on screen chemistry of the ensemble. I would highly recommend this film, if you are a David O. Russell fan or not. It was definitely worth the extra week or two wait. Get yourself out to the cinema to see this one! Almost guaranteed to be a player at the majority of film awards this year!
Also, if you are a fan of side-boob … you will probably like this movie too!