American Hustle was a highly anticipated big Hollywood release from director David. O Russell. Pulling together the stars of his previous two Oscar favourites, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook with the metamorphic Christian Bale along with big breakthrough Amy Adams, young and accomplished Jennifer Lawrence along with Bradley Cooper, trying to prove his acting chops, as well as Jeremy Renner and a small appearance from Robert DeNiro, appearing in his signature gangster role. The ensemble casting of this film may have led to its downfall, causing some of the performances to come across as simply straining for the audiences appraisal.
The film felt much glossier than Russell’s other works, a comedy crime drama which at times felt melodramatic and as if it was exerting itself to make the plotline appear more complex and the visuals appear slicker. It lacks the realism of The Fighter, whilst still keeping Russell’s trademark of inserting humour into scenes of gravitas, some of the comedy seemed to misfire and often punch lines were left a little flat.
Character development was more contrived than in Russell’s other works where it seemed to play out naturally, and the female characters in American Hustle are the two most compelling and best acted roles of the film, which is remarkable considering the amount of ludicrously revealing outfits they had to adorn. Jennifer Lawrence plays Rosalyn the young, self-centred and unstable wife of Bale’s Irving, and it is a very well rounded and believable performance which puts Lawrence in the kind of role we’ve yet to see her do, where she depicts an unsavoury character whom the audience can still find empathy for. Lawrence’s portrayal of Rosalyn is the stand out performance of the film. Amy Adams on the other hand, represents the other woman in Irving’s life, Sydney, a duplicitous character who does what she deems necessary to survive, which in this film is hustling. Sydney also struggles to decide whether or not conman Irving has been playing her all along, strings Cooper’s Richie along in order to help her discover what she really wants. Lawrence and Adams also bounce off each other perfectly as two bitter enemies vying for attention.
American Hustle has most definitely reeled audiences in with its dazzling promos star studded cast; creating a hype “From the feet up” as Irving would say, and although the film doesn’t quite live up to its expectations it is still a thoroughly enjoyable as a stylish crime caper, which is primarily style over substance but is occasionally glittered with elevating light-hearted moments and more conflicting dramatic ones.
The Star Studded Ensemble