The success of David O. Russell’s latest films, the intense and captivating ‘The Fighter’ and the quirky and original romantic comedy ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ mean that the bespectacled auteur is well on the way to becoming Hollywood royalty. This is his latest film, and from all the critical acclaim, it looks like it will definitely further his status as one of the most coveted and important directors around. Having put together an ensemble cast that features the likes of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, Russell’s screenplay makes the film a witty, involving and satisfying drama that really flourishes in its more comedic moments also.
Indeed, the film is as expertly performed as you would expect from a cast of such quality, with particularly admirable performances coming from Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, who reunites with Russell here after her Oscar winning performance in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. Bale’s peformance sees him becoming the epitome of a sleazeball, slimy and sly and wonderfully cunning, his character Irving Rosenfeld is the glue that keeps the film together, and Bale’s performance shows just how versatile he can be, with roles varying from emaciated insomniac Trevor Reznik in ‘The Machinist’ to this role as the affluent and conceited conman here, he truly is a thespian of the highest order. Lawrence is showing herself to be a powerhouse of the Hollywood scene, and with every film that goes by her performances get better. That is cemented here by her outstanding performance as Irving’s wife, the mistreated, neurotic, attention-seeking Rosalyn, who she manages to turn in to a twisted caricature of a trophy wife, a dark and yet amusing performance that definitely hits all the right marks and sticks perfectly.
Performances from the likes of Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams are also solid, though quite what happens with Adams’ accent is unknown, and at times she sounds like she’s created her own new English-speaking country and has duly invented their accent, which turns out to be a weird amalgamation of Queen’s English and a pretty standard American drawl. Aside from that, her character slots in to the narrative perfectly, and is just as alluring and manipulative as Rosalyn is. It’s interesting to see how the women exercise their power during a time and an industry that is completely dominated by men, and Adams is perfect at portraying it. Honourable mentions must also be given to a reliable turn from Jeremy Renner and a pleasing uncredited appearance for Robert De Niro as a mob boss. Russell really did hit the jackpot.
What Russell has created here is a fast-paced, engaging and amusing ensemble piece that makes up for what it lacks in depth by throwing in a whole heap of entertainment. Tightly directed and provocatively shot, it takes nothing for granted and ensures every scene is measured well, and my goodness are the costumes immaculately prepared, all the way down to the comically perfect hair that features so strongly throughout. ‘American Hustle’ may not quite be a masterpiece, it’s not really breaking new ground and it has nothing that interesting to say about anything really, but it’s an extremely entertaining romp that’s consistently funny and wonderfully performed, and so it deserves its plaudits in many respects, and is another example of Russell’s considerable talent.
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