David O. Russell is an oddity as a filmmaker – he is purely an actor’s director, and he’s grabbed 11 nominations for his actors over his past three films, with three wins. The man clearly knows his craft and how to work with actors. Of course up until today, my favorite film of his was Silver Linings Playbook, but when compared to the acting masterpiece that is American Hustle, it is pale in comparison.
First of all, the cast is probably the strongest point of this film – Christian Bale is a dead ringer for early Robert De Niro (who actually pops up in the film) and Bradley Cooper shows his ability to move away from the less-than-great films that he’s done in the past. These two are amazing in their parts, and I would certainly cast my vote for Cooper if I was an AMPAS voter. Of course, Amy Adams was unforgettable as Sydney Prosser, a sly seductress and con genius. Jennifer Lawrence has a part that is funny, but is so badly miscast, it is hard to take seriously. For someone as intelligent as David O. Russell, I don’t see why he had to cast Jennifer Lawrence in this part – if he was so desperate to have her in the film, he could have easily created a different part for her. An actress like Cameron Diaz or Isla Fisher could have been Academy Award winners if they were cast in a role like this, which suits them perfectly.
The unsung heroes of this film are the supporting characters – Louis C.K. wonderfully puts the microphone down and hangs up the black t-shirt to play a role for once, and I will tell you it is so nice to see him up on screen like that. The man is getting some good films to his name, and if the stars align for him, we could see him up on the Oscar stage someday too. Jeremy Renner was great, but underused. They contributed to making this film a great success, and to me they were vital to the film – simple walk-on performances would not have sufficed at all – it had to be these men who played Stoddard Thorsen and Carmine Polito respectively.
I need to say this film has one of the greatest soundtracks in film history, and is comparable to Martin Scorsese’s music-heavy films of the 1970s. The smoky atmosphere and impressive film design was quite simply amazing, and while not mind-blowing, it was still a great way to bring this period piece to life.
One of my favorite films of the year, and one that is darkly hilarious and a lot of fun to watch