American Hustle boasts an all star cast and a reasonable concept: A con man and his partner are forced to work for the FBI to bring down corrupt politicians and organised criminals.
A barely recognisable Christian Bale, Toby Cooper, Jeremy Reiner, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence all deliver exceptional performances and really bring their characters to life with as much depth as the art department gave the set and costumes. However, this depth comes at the cost of a well told story and the butchering of a concept that had real potential.
Ultimately, despite so much promise, I never really got into it. It was slow to start, which is always difficult to recover from, and the narrative was repeatedly put on hold so that the actors could explore the complex relationships their characters had with each other. While the acting itself was faultless to the point that the actors are betrayed by the poor story, I found my mind wandering off due to a lack of momentum and a fairly flat and messy second act. The reveals weren’t particularly well done and I wasn’t left with that feeling of satisfaction that usually accompanies the end of a hustle movie.
However, once the story does start moving, there are genuinely funny moments in and out of the dull patches and every so often there was a great line in the script that made me smile. And credit where it’s due, the look and style of the film perfectly imitate the time period in which the movie is set.
Christian Bale deserves an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Irvin Rosenfeld and while Jennifer Lawrence features very little in the first half, she really steals the show in the second and I’d probably nominate her for Best Supporting Actress.
American Hustle falls short from a story standpoint, there’s no question that the look and feel is something unusually well done. The actors seemed to really relish the characters and this alone promises a few laughs. It was watchable, but not brilliant.
ScreenScene Score: 7/10