Michelle Douvris ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Director David O. Russell is at it again. After crafting critically acclaimed hits The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, he has channeled his spontaneous energy and unorthodox approach into another sure-to-be hit: American Hustle. Featuring a star-studded cast, a larger than life story, and a whole lot of hairspray, the film manages to be both a crowd-pleaser as well as a formidable contender in the upcoming awards season.
American Hustle is loosely based on Abscam, a 1970s sting operation led by the FBI to uncover corrupt politicians, but Russell opted for a more comedic approach and focused on bringing the audience into the world of a fascinating, morally ambiguous cast of characters. Christian Bale leads the pack as Irving Rosenfeld, a quick-witted con artist with an elaborate comb-over and a belly much rounder than Batman’s (Bale gained 43 pounds for the role). Playing his partner in crime and mistress is Amy Adams, who not only gives Sydney Prosser a classy touch but a surprising depth of emotional conflict. Bradley Cooper stars as Richie DiMaso, a hot-tempered FBI agent who corners these two con artists into helping him catch corrupt political figures.
Jeremy Renner takes on the role of Mayor Carmine Polito, the main target of the operation, and gives one of his strongest performances to date. However, it is Jennifer Lawrence who steals the show. As Irving’s loud-mouthed, unpredictable wife Rosalyn, she is deemed “the Picasso of passive-aggressive karate” and her antics threaten to wreak havoc on the entire operation. Whether she is blowing up a microwave or going off on a tangent about the scent of her nail polish, Lawrence displays her incredible range with this role, showing remarkable comedic timing that she has not previously had the opportunity to tap into. Though the entire cast gives electrifying performances, hers has the best shot at an Oscar nomination.
David O. Russell is known for getting great performances out of his actors, but the acting is not the only notable feat of this film. Russell has created a living, breathing portrait of the 1970s, including everything from outrageous hair and costumes to a phenomenal soundtrack. His attention to detail brings you into this world that you will not want to leave once the credits start rolling. Unlike many other award-worthy films released this year, American Hustle is a true blast to watch. It may feature a somewhat sloppy narrative structure and it could probably be a tad on the shorter side, but these things seem irrelevant when you are so wrapped up in these characters’ lives. After three cinematic home runs in a row, it will be interesting to see what kind of world Russell can conjure up next.
Overall Grade: A+