Fri 27 Dec 2013
I really needed this film two days after watching and being so disappointed with Gravity. I am pretty sure that American Hustle will make ways less money than ‘Gravity’ and will get less Academy Awards if any. It is however a much better film in my opinion, smart and sensitive, funny and entertaining, and in its way represents much better today’s (or yesterday’s) America.
The story happens in the late 70s – early 80s in Manhattan and part in New Jersey, these two settings which may provide the background for more than half of the movies about America today, and is based in part on the real story of an FBI investigation that discovered wide-spread corruption in the local and national politics. In order to infiltrate in the local environment the Bureau investigator (Bradely Cooper) devices a scheme in which he blackmails a couple composed of a con man (Christian Bale) and his partner and lover (Amy Adams) are sent to lure a local politician and then other by offering them bribes. Same as in director David O. Russell previous film Silver Linings Playbook, (also set between NJ and NYC) none of the characters is really normal, they all have their non-negligible dose foolishness, malice and stupidity.
There are two reasons for which American Hustle works well. The first is that the structure of the script is well designed, and the characters are very credible with all their goods and flaws. The second is that Russell’s style of directing his actors enhanced the feeling of authenticity. Russell picked a team of very talented actors whom he knew well from previous films and let them create and improvise each their own roles. The result is bright. Christian Bale is hard to recognize physically, he is a smart and pathetic, loving and cynical con man. The actor of so many feel-good movies Bradley Cooper is mean and dark. For the first time I have seen here Jennifer Lawrence in a role (Bale’s wife) that justifies the praises he received from many critics. Last and best – Amy Adams is unbelievably beautiful and vulnerable – she looks like a 2013 version of the best of what Jane Fonda could be. The cake has a glazing, and it’s called Robert De Niro (uncredited for some reasons) – he does the older and tired version of the role he played so many times, and I hope that his devastated looks were just make-up.
Smartest, maybe best American film that I have seen in a while.