American Hustle – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

american hustleAmerican Hustle – 4/5 – Ensemble movies; they are ones that can be a spectacle or a shamble.  When it comes to these kinds of films, they are built upon some kind of story that weaves some kind of web.  Even so, the entertaining value is built upon how all the characters work with one another and how they play off each other to make it intriguing at best.  American Hustle (from director David O. Russell) is an ensemble film that brings together many people; tangling them in a web that is fascinating and very well adapted with a fantastic touch.  Overall, American Hustle is a film that may not be a spectacle, but it is a very great film.

Premise: A con man and his seductive British partner are living the high life in the schemes.  All comes crumbling down as they are forced to work for a wild FBI agent.  As the web of their schemes grows bigger through the agent, they will have to find a way to please everyone, and find a way to survive it all.

In the lead roles of the con artist tag team, Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser, you have Christian Bale and Amy Adams.  These two individual give some of the best performances of their careers in this film.  Christian Bale creates a suave but humble individual, who is very slick and articulate.  No matter if it’s his line delivery or facial expressions, he gives us an individual who is layered and deeply motivated.  In this individual, you see someone that is provocative but caring, someone that is very stern in his view points, especially when it comes to the con game and his family being involved.  As for Amy Adams, she creates a provocative but sly woman.  Her character plays more on outside impressions to bring you in.  This helps you build a physical presence for her motivation, as that provocative nature is ‘in your face’, showing that she will any individual to the bone.  Her aura of feminism is a strong trait as it will break you. Through her feministic qualities, she shows how it will pull you to question decisions, leaving you with a question of are you the fool for her ‘love’ or not.  The dialogue between these two is pristine and raw in nature.  The blunt personality between both vibrates through their actions and words, as it shows additional depth to their characters, helping define their purpose in maneuvering through this big cast and big story.  Outside of these two, you have a large supporting cast; a group of people that have thier own purpose to this film.  You have:

FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper)

Mayer Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner)

Rosalyn Rosenfield (Jennifer Lawrence)

FBI director Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.)

Sheik Abdullah (Michael Pena)

There are a few other names that pop up (Robert DeNiro, Jack Hutson) but they are more cameos, as they are only important plot device caricatures.  The people mention above do a fantastic job in molding their characters for this film, creating people that are distinct through an intuitive structure.  They provide deeply pivotal people that are purposeful for moving the story along.  In being this distinct, you see strong motives for each of the characters, as they all have a part in this ‘hustling’ scheme, one way or another.  The strongest two from this group of supporting cast is Bradley Cooper as Richie DiMaso and Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfield.  Bradley Cooper gives us a man bent on success; someone that wants to bring down corrupt individuals at all cost.  Through this determination, Cooper creates a man dedicated so far that his blindness tends to get the best of him.  He self indulges on things that are ‘grandeur’ to his own job, creating someone that is deeply conflicted with truth and purpose.  His interactions with the main two are grounded in relativity, creating sequences and situations that are satirical and comical.  He is a folly of sorts, but one that is very believable and flawed.  This makes his character a standout in a supporting role.  Jennifer Lawrence is the other one that gives a very strong performance, one that borders as Oscar worthy.  As the wife of Irvin, Lawrence creates someone that is very passive/aggressive in her personality.  She puts those raw emotions on display when it comes towards her husband Irvin and other characters in the film.  She creates a dynamic that a welcome change of pace for both the story and her relationships in the film.  Her personality injects a fragment to the overall plot, creating comical situations and unexpected moments that will make the movie less predictable.  She is a delight and very prudent, and does great in delivering her lines.

The direction of this film is one that is distinct in its ‘creativity’, one that adds flavor to its ensemble cast.   The movie builds a web, showing perspective through interactions and dialogue.  No matter what film he directs, David O. Russell creates ones that are driven by colorful characters and witty dialogue.  The one thing that makes his films standout is how punctual the situations are, and the precision that the delivery of his script has to be to create aura of multiple emotions within a single scene.  Through this, it creates reactions that are unwarranted, but are still ironically amazing.  Those reactions creates an experience that is unpredictable, leaving you struck with either feeling the love within the story (Silver’s Lining Playbook) or feeling the determination of brothers (The Fighter).  Here, he creates a place where you feel the pressure in the idea of hustling.  In that pressure, you see as it defines that all these motivations are never derived from the same place, but they always end up in one direction. As the film begins and through the first act, we see as the two main characters (Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser) are very prolific when it comes to the con-artist game.  They sell forged art, bank in high interest loans, and prey upon others in the bad economy of the late 1970s.  All of this can be dull, but the amazement is built upon the layering of subtlety in their relationship, and the intuitive feelings created through the heavy dialogue.  Through it, you get a sense that they both have a separate idea of their hustle, but know they want to end this game at a positive place.  This all changes when Richie DiMaso gets involved, and enlists them in his ‘glory run’ of busting corruption within the government.  Once this added storyline is added to the ‘con-artist’ premise, the second act builds up the pressure, causing the subtle pace of the film to kick up.  Through this, as the pressure builds upon the main two, you see as they try to juggle their motives while also helping DiMaso.  All of this is wonderfully directed, as each situation is on point with great delivery and progression.  The tone never lets up from its satirical aura, and the overall ‘hustle’ theme vibrates through all the newly introduced characters.  As everyone interacts through this chunk of the film, the stakes continue to grow, watching as O. Russell’s style kick into high gear. The dialogue will strike you with a tension that is blunt, stern and whimsical.  The wittiness of the lines will make you laugh when you don’t expect, and cringe when the obscure things happen.  The added guessing game of ‘whose really conning who’ will also add a level of mystery, leaving you engaged on wanting to know if Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser will get out of this without any fault to them.  Once the film get’s to the third act, it culminates in closure that will define what the whole idea of theme ‘hustle’ is.  In that singularity tone, you see as the theme brings this big, tangling story into one big epilogue.  There is real closure to all the threads involved, and as the film ends, you realize the big picture, as the film gives you a collective vision on the ‘hustle’ of life.

The visuals aren’t something that you will be attached too, but it isn’t a deterrent from the film.  The creation of the ‘1970s’ is felt throughout the architecture, clothing and scenarios that are created in the film.  The score is a great part of the film, adding flavor from the era.  The music helps capture the moments of certain scenes in the film, and adds an emotional sense throughout the experience.

Overall, American Hustle is a great display of how dialogue, characters and story in an ensemble cast can be brought together under a single roof.  The film has great acting, a good story, and overall experience that will leave you clamoring for more.  If you’re a fan of any of the actors/actress or a fan of the director, this is a film for you.  You will not be disappointed.

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