American Hustle (Rated R)
Last year, Silver Linings Playbook came out. It was a movie written and directed by David O. Russel (The Fighter, Three Kings) and it was nominated for tons of Oscars and ended up winning a few. I missed the early screening of it in theaters but when the nominations came out I got sent a copy on DVD to watch it at home. I understand that it really struck a chord in some people and they regard it as one of the best films in years but I just didn't get it. I couldn't understand why it was considered great let alone nominated for Oscars (except for Jennifer Lawerence...she was pretty amazing). His new movie is American Hustle and just like before, everyone is losing their minds over this but this time around, I get it.
Imagine if Goodfellas and The Sting were the same movie and it was a comedy. What your picturing in your head is American Hustle (which was originally titled American Bullsh*t actually). It stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradly Cooper and Jennifer Lawerence. It's pretty much an incredible movie although you have to be patient with it because it starts off entertaining but very sluggish. That level of tolerance though is paid off in spades when the plot starts rolling like a runaway train and you become intensely invested in these characters.
Every single person in this movie deserves an Oscar nomination and Bale and Lawerence deserve to win. It's amazing to me how Russel can wrench these performances out of actors that we already know are mega talented but yet he gets even more from them. Bale is a lovably derpy conman who gets caught in a scam with his girlfriend, played by Adams. The two are then forced to pull off more cons to catch bigger crooks by Cooper who plays a manic FBI agent. The story gets even more twisted when Bale's wife, played by Lawerence, gets involved; she's 80% of both the comic relief and heartbreak in the film.
Besides the late '70s details in every single inch of the film and the style of directing that Russel brings to the movie that keeps it moving, the real reason to see American Hustle is for the characters. Every single person in the movie is good and evil, villainous and heroic, and it makes the film richly complex. You have a pretty good idea of how the movie is going to end but the journey to get there is full scenes that make you laugh and make you cry but all of which is so entertaining to see how they build to this forseeable conclusion that it's one of the most enjoyable movies to come out this year.
If there's one thing that seems to be void in Hollywood now it's characters that are thick with layers. Most films follow a formula and unravel in predictable ways and American Hustle isn't that different but the characters are so unique in this that you can't hate, love or feel apathetic about any of them. I'm not sure if it's the success of the writing that makes them that way or the flawless performances but either way this is a movie that deserves the awards it's going to get showered with this year and one that I can't wait to see again and introduce to friends.