Film Review: American Hustle

American Hustle is on those movies that very nearly passed me by. When I first saw the trailers for it at the end of 2013, I will admit I wasn’t instantly taken by it. Yes, the cast was good but the plot looked a bit cheesy and unbelievable and the whole 1970s era is a time before me and so not something I instantly connect with.

Then I started to read information about it, and hear reviews and a film, which I thought would be a passing fad through the multiplex’s started to make some nose. People started to talk about it in terms of awards, and “film of the year”. And listening to an interview with David O. Russell and realising that this is a movie from the same man who brought the world Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter and even Three Kings, thoughts of not letting this slip through the night started to get louder. And to channel a bit of Lady Edith Greensly – one is glad one didn’t.

American Hustle is a very, very good movie. I honestly sat there are times thinking I may be watching the first movie on this blog to hit 10/10. Sadly, in slight spoiler alert, it doesn’t, but the thought was in my mind.

Just like Silver Linings Playbook, Russell manages to create a film in which the plot and the characters interaction with that plot just grow through layer after layer. It really is stunning film making. This is then complimented by some absolutely stunning individual performances. Jennifer Lawrence steals it for me out of the leading roles, but the supporting roles of Jeremy Renner and Elisabeth Röhm are just as strong.

Sadly, Christian Bale just comes across as a little bit too moody – it works as Batman, but as a 1970s conman, he just feels a bit too slimy at times for anyone to ever truly trust him. The casting of Robert De Niro also lets the film down, as he’s just too well known, and too big a star in too small a cameo role to really feel convincing.

The soundtrack is immense – I challenge anyone not to sit there and in your head, not sing along as Jennifer Lawrence belts out Live and Let Die, or Elton John echoes around the cinema. The balance of big 1970s hit and subtle background music throughout the film is an absolute work of art and it’s that balance that means you are completely sold on the era, on the setting. This film is set in the 1970s and you feel like you’re in the 1970s. It draws you in so well you may even start thinking about buying a pair of flairs or platform shoes.

All this doesn’t mean the film is perfect and the biggest issue for me is that the story peaks to early. It’s using the amount of layers within the plot and the different relationships of the characters to keep you hooked and so while never boring, it annoyingly, becomes predictable. The final third unfortunately, limps to a conclusion you’ve been waiting, expecting and predicting for a large portion of the film.

In comparison to David O. Russell’s other works this is up there, and only goes to enhance his reputation as a stunning film maker. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see it get a lot of nods in the awards season. It’s actually a good shout as a dark horse for Best Picture – but I think “12 Years A Slace” or “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” will take it. However, I just think that if you compare all his work side by side, he has produced better films. Silver Linings Playbook for one.

Don’t let that stop you from watching American Hustle though. It really is very, very good and you won’t be disappointed.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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