Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Case for Hustlings

American Hustle came into town with a lot of Jennifer Lawrence posters with big 70s hair and cleavage revealing gold outfits.  It was a hit at the Golden Globes and even if the previews were a bit uninspiring, the movie was on my must see list. 

First off, the Golden Globes to Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are well deserved.  Adams, in particular, playing con artist Sydney Prosser is incredible, beautiful yet every so often, with the layers of make up scraped away, plain (one could never call her “ugly”) and vulnerable.  Lawrence meanwhile is insanely hilarious and, as a Silver Linings Playbook fan, I don’t think she ever once shares a line with Bradley Cooper (Richie DiMaso). 

As much as Adams is the standout, she is unfortunately not the main character: that honour goes to Irving Rosenfeld, played with relish as a fat, balding semi-slob (yet still seductive – he does score both Adams and Lawrence!) by Christian Bale, and he narrates most of the movie.

There is a bit of narration really, though it is not always used consistently.  It is used for back story but never for letting us know what is going on in people’s heads or their future plans.  The camera is constantly on the move, as if this were a Peter Jackson film, and lapping up the huge amount of boobage on display and DiMaso’s perm. 

Storywise… well, it is a little slow, I have to admit, and it doesn’t seem to make a huge amount of sense (I still can’t figure out how the initial con actually worked long term), but with Prosser smouldering away while Rosenfeld makes sure things run to plan, I wanted to believe that anything was possible.

DiMaso’s appearance throws a spanner in the works as he is… well, I get the impression he is meant to be smart but eager, but he comes across as being more on the stupid side of the spectrum with the odd flash of inspiration.  Quite how he manages to get in with Prosser and Rosenfeld, considering his erratic behaviour, never really made sense to me, and his relationship with his boss and his family is occasionally a bit funny but mainly seems unnecessarily cruel. 

DiMaso’s spanner then messes up both the con and my enjoyment of the movie, to a certain degree.  It’s not Cooper’s fault really; it is just the character is such a pain.  And then things get bigger, occasionally funnier, and Lawrence comes into her own, making the twisted and probably insane yet highly intelligent Rosalyn incredibly enjoyable for all her high maintenance attributes.

Verdict: American Hustle is a fun film, but not really a great one.  Some incredible performances worthy of recognition make it a film to see, but the story is a bit slow and predictable, even if the script is actually rather funny.  8 swindles out of 10.

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