Oscar Nominations 4: American Hustle Review

Oscar Show Stealer

By Adam Sturrock

American Hustle (2013)

Director: David O. Russell

Writer: Eric Warren Singer (original screenplay) and David O. Russell

Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner

Length: 138 mins

Another Film, another tower of Oscar nominations for the prolific award grabber, David O Russell. In his latest film, American Hustle, the director comes out with an all star cast including the Oscar nominated trifecta of Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper and the rising star that is Jennifer Lawrence.  Will it truly meet the expectations of many? Let’s find out.

O Russell is clearly gunning for the Best Film award with this roster and equally impressive screenplay and score, with the Academy award’s 10 nominations a testiment to the standard on show. Too many films like this trip at the first hurdle as it becomes a homage to substance over form, but somehow it is pulled off in this case. Featuring  the sleazy, slack businessman, Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his equally devious partner in crime, Sydney Prosser (Adams); we see them attempt to con themselves into riches and notoriety by stitching up the Mafia and politicians with the help of FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) in this semi-true tale.

What is quite apparent of the characters in this film, and also a growing trademark of O Russell’s films is that all of them are flawed but seem weirdly endearing. Loyalties are disbanded, double-crossed and taped together and it is this chess game of power-play that is what makes the film entertaining. A special mention goes to Jennifer Lawrence as she slowly but surely steals the show as Rosenfeld’s erratic wife, Rosalyn.

Overall, the entire cast managed to put in a hard shift at the office. Bale put himself through some major health problems in order to play the overweight criminal, including permanently reducing his height by three inches due to a forced slouch for the character. Bradley Cooper continued his superb form from The Silver Linings Playbook as FBI agent DiMaso with a particular scene with fellow co-star Louis C.K a highlight. Admittedly, Jeremy Renner must feel hard done by as he is often overshadowed by the surrounding cast amid his strong performance as the hardworking politician, Carmine Polito. Playing a nice guy, family man, he will struggle to elbow his way into contention which is indeed a shame.

A fantastic film it may be, a question of the casting choices may be noticed; if they weren’t nominated for their performances would this be seen as just a blatant showcase of David’s contacts?  Taking this into account, the ending to this film is a doozy (in a good way) and truly solidifies the challenge sought by American Hustle as we brace ourselves for award season.

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