At this point, if you love films, you shouldn’t need a ton of reason to go see a David O Russell movie. The performers who get drawn to his films is not an accident, and it’s not the main reason his films are good. The stories he weaves with the great characters he creates are the reason that with AMERICAN HUSTLE he very easily has a third film in a row which is going to be talked about among the top films of the year. This is what you should come to expect from David O Russell.
Rating: 9.2 out of 10
This film is every bit as good as Silver Linings Playbook. Arguably better. It’s just as enjoyable despite being not as funny. Call it a better story than Silver Linings Playbook. Give it the same praise in comparison to The Fighter. I won’t stop you.
Memorable Performances: It’s close, but you could say that the performances here are better than his previous two films as well.
Christian Bale’s work in The Fighter was depicting a character which took some considerable talent to portray, and he nailed it. In AMERICAN HUSTLE, he took a character which was just as complex but wouldn’t take as much talent to portray, and he took a really good character and made it great. Part of the joke about the character is how he gets Amy Adams’ character to fall for him, but the way she describes him is dead-on with the reasons why audiences will be similarly hooked.
Amy Adams felt like a supporting character in THE FIGHTER. She took third billing to Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale… perhaps even fourth if you prefer Melissa Leo there. But in AMERICAN HUSTLE, she does better than just hold her own. She glows and forces people to take notice, even when she’s on screen with Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper both doing excellent work.
Not typically a fan of Bradley Cooper, I found myself once again totally buying into the fact that he’s got some talent, and it was on display in AMERICAN HUSTLE in a big way. In a lot of ways, this was a much more complicated role than the loud, wild character he portrayed in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. He still drives it home in a way that I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but that I find myself forced to acknowledge.
If anyone is capable of not melting into the background with the three other more prominent roles shining brilliantly, it’s Jennifer Lawrence who is far more enjoyable here than in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Her character here has far more depth and Lawrence really helps get to the heart of a character which might otherwise be considered not to have one. You don’t just care about this woman whose actions are a healthy mix of cringe-worthy accidents and laughable care-free actions, but you really get the chance to empathize with her by the end of the film.
Each of those individuals will be nominated when it comes time to do my awards at the end of Film Quest 2013. I won’t be surprised if, after much deliberation, they each find themselves atop their respective categories.
Jeremy Renner, while not nearly as dominant with his performance as the four aforementioned stars, did excellent work in his role and hooked you into his mindset. Similarly, Louis C. K. was absolutely a highlight of the film despite his role being considerably small. Robert De Niro’s involvement was also incredible with the amount of weight it held, especially given the character he portrays. If I decide to make a category for cameos, his will surely be near the top.
Favorite Parts: The way Amy Adams changes her personality in the film, from weak to strong and back again. The way she manipulates one minute and then melts the next, it’s incredible. The scene which comes to mind specifically for that is when she and Christian Bale’s character decide how they’re going to approach their dealings with Bradley Cooper’s character.
Equally as great is the entire scene where all the major players in this film go out together to meet business associates. Jennifer Lawrence is incredible during that part of the movie, and while Amy Adams plays a lesser role, her interactions with Lawrence leave an indelible impression. Christian Bale does some of his finest work in that portion of the film, at times with his dialogue, other times with facial impressions.
The end of the film, when everything culminates and you get the final word on what becomes of all characters involved, the way it all goes down is so perfectly crafted, leaving no doubt about Russell’s abilities as a storyteller.
The Regrettable Aspects: There are none. At all.
Would I watch it again? At this point, I already have PLANS to see it again before the year is over. Not just within the next 12 months, but before a new calendar is hanging on my wall.
To Whom Would I Recommend It? Anyone who liked SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK at all.
– SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – With as many times as I mentioned it, is there any doubt that this is a movie you should see?
– INCEPTION – Though it’s far more complicated than AMERICAN HUSTLE, this is another finely crafted film which has, at its core, a lot of the same themes which I can’t discuss without giving away too many spoilers for either one of the films.
– THE DEPARTED – Both films are so expertly crafted and have a lot in common. DEPARTED relies considerably more on violence, but its characters don’t give you as much to connect with at multiple emotional levels.
If you’ve got recommendations for alternatives to AMERICAN HUSTLE, or for other similar films, let me know!