American Hustle (2013)

Amy Adams playing someone she's not playing someone she's not.

Amy Adams playing someone she’s not playing someone she’s not.

There is a scene in David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” where Jennifer Lawrence’s character is making small talk with her husband’s friends about her top coat nail polish. She explains her obsession; it is both super-sweet smelling but that just underneath that layer of sweetness is something distinctly sour. She then proceeds to have everyone at the table take a whiff. Similarly, the people at that table and, indeed, everyone else that pops up throughout the brisk 2 hour running time of “American Hustle” has those traits. We love these people. We are rooting for them despite the fact they spend most of their time conning, swindling, lying and selling out. Russell’s robust comedy about good old fashioned American reinvention and the art of the con does not really focus too much on where it’s going but, rather, revels in the ride. There is a prevailing sense of desperation that drives most of these characters. They are always, on some level, not being genuine or real. They live fake lives and our three main characters (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and an especially excellent Amy Adams) find themselves at a crossroads of wanting to shed their gift to dissimulate and perhaps do what normal people do.

Like the characters, the film itself plays us. Early on, Bale’s character warns “People believe what they want to believe” and that truism reveals itself to the character and us the audience. David O. Russell is not exactly himself either as he  intentionally or unintentionally apes Scorsese’s visceral camera playbook and slow motion/70’s soundtrack flourishes but I found it all irresistible.  Thankfully, Russell’s uncanny ability to always find a natural form of chaos with an ensemble cast is present; so many scenes crackle with the kind of energy that is sadly lacking from American cinema today. Highly Recommended.

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3 Responses to American Hustle (2013)

  1. Jason Z says:

    Now I’m even more excited to see this than I already was!

    Sent from my Russian iHole


  2. Kevin Jones says:

    Haven’t seen this yet. Although it’s certainly on my must-see list for the year (along with at least 5 other must-sees).

    Admittedly, I’ve grown a bit cold on Russell after the last couple of films. I’ve been a huge cheerleader after “Flirting w Disaster” all the way through “Huckabees”. He lost me somewhere early on in “Silver-linings”, he seemed to be trading real human characters for madcap energy, as if the secret to keeping the audience invested was to heighten the volume and hysteria of each scene. As I think back, “Three Kings” and “Huckabee’s” does this as well, but those films didn’t exhaust me the way “The Fighter” and “Silver-linings” did. I find the tone of his films these days to be unpleasant, not in a Lar Von Trier grin-and-bear-it sorta way. More like a get-me-away-from-this-obnoxious-asshole-at-a-party sorta way.

    With all that said, I’m gonna see it eventually, possibly not until home video, but I will see it and let you know how it goes.

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