Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review of AMERICAN HUSTLE: Outrageous Sting

February 6, 2014

I was excited to watch this film the very first time I saw the promotional photograph showing its young illustrious cast of actors practically unrecognizable with their ornate hairstyles and snazzy outfits. 

When award season came rolled in late last year, this film figured very prominently in the nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and ALL FOUR Acting categories in the critics and guild awards, the Golden Globe, the BAFTAs and of course, the Oscars -- and actually winning a lot of them already! This film is a definite must-see.

American Hustle is set in the wild and wooly 1970s.  Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a con artist who, together with his partner-in-crime sexy Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), was conscripted by over-eager FBI agent Richie diMaso (Bradley Cooper) to hatch a complicated sting operation to trap corrupt politicians, including New Jersey mayor Carmel Polito (Jeremy Renner). In the meantime, Irving has to keep his incendiary wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) on a leash or else his plot will be blown wide open.

Christian Bale had gotten so much out of his Batman shape for this role (reportedly gaining 50 pounds) as the Jewish conman with the elaborate comb-over hairdo. Amy Adams was certainly no Princess Giselle in her daring cleavage-revealing gowns and dresses. It was quite a hoot seeing Bradley Cooper in hair curlers, going more bananas than his role in The Hangover. Too bad there was too little of Jeremy Renner in his teased-up bouffant hairstyle.

The best performer for me though is Jennifer Lawrence in a supporting role that is not actually directly within the main plot, yet she does so well to steal the thunder from her other co-stars by being so audacious and wild. Playing this unstable woman older than her real age, this girl is really showing her versatility. It is no wonder that she is already being touted by critics to be the "next Meryl Streep"!

This is another quirky masterpiece from Director David O. Russell. Russell last year directed the excellent Silver Linings Playbook, which also scored nominations in all four Acting nominations, and then again this year with American Hustle (both years with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) --  a testament to his skill with his actors.  American Hustle also recently just won the Outstanding Ensemble Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards to affirm this. 

Aside from picture, directing and acting, this film was also nominated by the Academy for its darkly comic Original Screenplay by Russell with Eric Warren Singer, its dynamic Film Editing, its meticulous 70s Production Design and its outrageous Costume Design. This brings its grand total of Oscar nominations to an impressive ten.

If you like great camp, this is the film to catch.  Everything about this movie is overblown and over the top. I enjoyed watching this film about con artists out- conning each other. There was so much fun watching their out-of-this-world hair and clothes. The extreme over-acting of each of the main cast (all Oscar pedigreed), so unlike anything we have ever seen them in -- it was just so downright entertaining. 8/10. 

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