American Hustle review by George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso
Much like the films varying array of giant hairstyles, American Hustle is full of big ideas and over the top themes but in trying to make a point it hasn’t treated viewers to a film worthy of devoting any time to. Not only is American Hustle a borderline generic crime flick, it’s also another one of David O Russell’s passion projects that he has unfortunately becomes far too proud of.
The film follows Irving (Christian Bale) and his assistant Sydney (a woeful Amy Adams), two con artists who are apprehended by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and forced to help him apprehend people using their unique skillset. However when their job gets more complicated as they target politicians Irving must find a way out for him and Sydney as well as for his manipulative wife Rosalyn (A brilliant Jennifer Lawrence).
Hustle has so many points its trying to make, things its trying to say that it hardly gets any of them out. Russell has created a toothless film that rarely rises above the convoluted plot Russell has concocted out of the partially true story of the Abscam case. Sure the film could work as political allegory but the tale has been twisted to fit the directors message making the truth hard to detect, muting the films ability to say anything of value.
It’s not a total waste as the film is populated with fine actors doing excellent work as Russell is known for bringing the best out of his performers. Not only is Jennifer Lawrence doing some of her best work but Bradley Cooper is equally fantastic as the unpleasant and destructive Richie, a man so corrupt and self righteous its hard to imagine why he’s working for the FBI
However Russell has never really been able to craft stories without some pretty gargantuan holes with Silver Linings Playbook feeling like a romantic comedy, not a detailed look at mental illness like some may suggest. Hustle tries to be a tale with a message about corruption but the films messy plot, shoddy filming style and disappointing soundtrack let the whole thing down, making Hustle a major disappointment even if you might see some damn good acting