Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Movie Review: "American Hustle" (2013)

Movie: "American Hustle"
Director: David O. Russell
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes
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Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a small time hustler with a wife named Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and a girlfriend named Sydney (Amy Adams). When Irving and Sydney embark upon a loan scheme, they are caught in a sting operation and forced to help FBI agent Peter DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) arrest four people who commit fraud on his watch. DiMaso is overzealous, ambitious, and looking to make a name for himself. He suggests that the couple go after Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and many other politicians who want to build Atlantic City from a mere pipe dream to a reality, and to restore New Jersey's economy. Things get a little out of hand when several things go awry: the mafia gets involved, Irving's crazy wife can't keep her mouth shut, and DiMaso's delusions of grandeur make him think he will be able to bring down all organized crime.

We have been excited about this movie for a very, very long time. When the first trailer came out, I was personally drawn to it because of the choice to use Led Zeppelin as the background song. Points right there, friends. Then, how the story looked...WOW! It looked so explosive. Let's just say we had pretty high expectations knowing both the cast as well as the director. We will say that while the trailers are slightly misleading, they don't take away from the fact that this is a damn fine movie. David O. Russell, well played, sir.

First off, we must talk about the acting in this film. It is freaking INCREDIBLE, and not just by one performer, but by ALL OF THEM. DAMN, son! Everyone: Renner as the slick mayor, Lawrence as the eccentric and nosy/know-it-all wife, Louis C.K. as the by-the-book boss, Cooper and that curly 'fro, Adams as a phony Brit, Bale as a fat con artist...SUPERB acting jobs by all of them! They are so good, so believable, and so engaging. Christian Bale is really dedicated to his craft, going from being twig thin in movies like "The Machinist" to gaining over 40 pounds for his role as Irving Rosenfeld here. METHOD!!! Amy Adams is flawless as usual as Sydney Prosser, and Jennifer Lawrence stuns as Rosalyn Rosenfeld. They are all so engaging and perfect for their roles.

The scene where both Adams and Lawrence are at the same club together and on-screen together for the first time....you can feel the glances they give one another burning holes in the back of your head. You can virtually see the claws come out as soon as their eyes meet. The scowls, the side-eyes, the lipstick! UGH, perhaps my favorite scene in the entire movie. Their hatred and anger for one another is so palpable! Bradley Cooper is perhaps the biggest surprise to us. We know he's capable of doing comedies, but I feel that he really stood out on his own in this movie, showing audiences that he is capable of more than just dick and fart jokes.

Now, we would be remiss if we didn't discuss the outfits, the scenery, the hair, and the 70's throwbacks. WOW. I can only imagine how long it would take someone to do their hair in the 70's! Everything looks pretty accurate and authentic, even the opening movie logo is era-specific. It seems like filmmakers really took their time to get it (mostly) right.

Finally, it's not completely what we expected. Sure, we knew the gist of it, but we expected much more violence, as the trailer alluded. It's more of a comedy than anything, with lots of drama, minimal violence, and some light nudity. David O'Russell is a fine filmmaker. He has that wonderment of originality about him, and we can't wait for many more movies from him in the future. Don't go into this movie expecting "Goodfellas," but expect it to be one you want to watch again!

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!!

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