American Hustle is a film that exudes confidence from start to finish. David O. Russell really impressed me with his previous films The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, but this is easily the most confident of the bunch.
That comes as no surprise when he gets to work with what could be regarded as the most talented ensemble cast possible from Hollywood today.
American Hustle is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970’s and tells the story of con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who are forced by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to work with the FBI in bringing down corrupt politicians and wanted members of the mafia.
They focus mainly on the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) to get the ball rolling but Rosenfeld must keep an eye on his wife Rosalynd Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence), who is unpredictable to say the least.
David O. Russell is a director that knows how to get the best out of his cast. After having worked with Bale and Adams before on The Fighter and with Cooper and Lawrence on Silver Linings Playbook, O. Russell added Renner to the cast and they are all on top form.
Each of them has their own moment to shine, but for me Christian Bale and Amy Adams were the stand-out performers. Bale, who is known for taking his roles very seriously, put on around 40 pounds of weight to get into character and it just makes you feel even more engrossed in his performance. His character is disgusting and desperate and Bale seems to almost get lost in the character. Like his performance in The Fighter, Bale is out ahead of all the other members of the cast.
Not far behind him is Amy Adams. I have always been impressed with her ever since Enchanted and she just seems to be growing stronger as an actress. In American Hustle she delivers a great performance. She is the eye-candy of all the cons but she has the bite to go with it. O. Russell’s recent films just do not feature weak female characters.
Bradley Cooper is in dynamic form as FBI agent DiMaso. He has become more and more watchable further into his career and here he carries on that trait. Jeremy Renner plays Carmine Polito in such a way that makes you feel real empathy towards him when he is being sucked into the con. Jennifer Lawrence has a pretty minor role in comparison to most films she does nowadays, but that just makes her have more of an impact on the audience. Her character Rosalynd is seen as the ‘other woman’ in the relationship, which is weird seeing as she is the wife of Irving Rosenfeld. Cooper, Renner and Lawrence all bring an energy that makes the 138 minute running time just fly by.
What really surprised me about American Hustle was how funny it was. I was expecting some humour but it really had the audience laughing a lot throughout. In places it felt like a comedy of errors.
The supporting cast get in on a lot of the funniest moments. Michael Pena in the scenes with the fake Sheik is worthy of a mention as is Louis C.K. as Stoddard Thorsen in the scenes he shares with Bradley Cooper.
American Hustle is a great start to the year of 2014 in film and I would definitely recommend it. David O. Russell adds another fine film to his filmography and does so with a few nods to Martin Scorsese and classic crime capers. It is slick and stylish filmmaking with a fantastic soundtrack to accompany it.