Saturday, December 21, 2013

American Hustle Review

David O. Russel has been on a winning streak lately, and American Hustle in no way changes this.  The acting is at absurd levels of well done and it may just be Russel's most entertaining outing that he has made.  Although the plot can get a little muddied and it's very easy to get lost in the vast enterprise of the whole thing, American Hustle roars loudly with fun thrills and a bustling climax.

I'll start out with that the absolute most notable thing about American Hustle is its star studded cast and acting at a level you'd expect from a David O. Russel film.  The thing that I love about Russel's films is that his dialogue is so real, almost to the point where it was written for these actors, and the entire cast is up to par, there are no star players, it is a pure ensemble film.  Each actor works off each other, plays off each other, and they spew out their words as if its almost ad lib (in a good way).  While the overlapping dialogue can sometimes muddy up what exactly just happened in the film, it only really works to benefit the flick as a whole.

While I could spend a paragraph talking about each actor and how good their performances are, I'm going to narrow it down into one.  First off, Jennifer Lawrence was at the best I think I have seen her at in this film, she absolutely nails this role, almost to the point where she kills the ensemble (and all the actors giving performances on an equally high level) because her scenes elevate that much.  Lawrence is probably the most fun character, and definitely one of the most interesting in the film.  The second most notable performance is probably Bradley Cooper, who isn't as entertaining as Lawrence, but is nearly to that point, and as a character is so neatly complex that you are sitting there in anticipation waiting to see what unpredictable action he takes next.  The other performances were all at high levels as well, but if I had to name standouts it was undoubtedly Lawrence and Cooper in their roles, and they are definitely the ones that deserve the Oscar buzz in the coming season.

The main problem I had with American Hustle was that with all of the glitz, glamour, and quick-witted performances it was very easy to get lost in the hustle.  There were definitely points within this film where I'd think for a second and just be like, "What?", while I would quickly catch back on, the film moves at such a rapid pace that it never really gives the audience time to be able to fully soak in the information given to them because you have plot coming at you from all directions, while this would be less of a problem with repeat viewings (which will be very likely from me) it can be a bit of a distraction at times.  I will say though, I see why Russel did this, and that is because of the ending, it had to move fast in order to make the ending that much more abrupt and have that much more of an impact when it hits you, and I have to say it was worth it and one of the best plot twists of the entire year.  

My other main gripe about American Hustle was that it took it a bit to get on its feet and moving, it's start is nonetheless shaky.  The beginning almost feels like David O Russel is trying to take from Goodfellas and make his own version of it in a way, and it just doesn't really settle down right.  However, once it gets past this two person, interchanging narrative that plagues the beginning it gets on its feet and takes off running, and once it does I was totally in for the rest of the film.  I just have to make the note of this though, because it was the second major flaw in the movie that I was able to spot.

American Hustle is a bustling ball of fun and thrill, and a mainstream film that is very refreshing to see in a cinema world that uses an abundance of CGI action to entertain their audience and American Hustle proves you don't need to explosions to be thrilling, you don't need gags to be funny, and you don't need an over the top, unique premise to be smart and original.  While it never really catches the heart that Russel managed in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle is wildly entertaining and a fun, smart, escapist comedy for the Holiday season.

8/10 Sticks of Bamboo

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