Russell’s New ‘American’ Classic

Director David O. Russell has once again struck cinematic gold with his latest film, “American Hustle,” and no one should be surprised if his directing is nominated for a third Oscar in just four years. Much like his two previous Oscar-nominated films, “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle” is darkly funny, sometimes uncomfortable to watch and is supported by an ultra-talented cast.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

The cast is practically an all-star team of the best talent featured in Russell’s previous two films consisting of Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and a brief yet absolutely terrifying Robert De Niro appearance (more on that later). While the directing is once again incredible and the story is gripping, the performances in this film are what have been placing this film near the top of various Oscars prediction lists.

Loosely based on the events surrounding an FBI operation that occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s called ABSCAM, the film follows two con artists, played skillfully by Bale and Adams, who have been pinched by the FBI and are now being forced to assist them in exposing corrupt politicians by offering them large sums of money in exchange for favors.

Bradley Cooper plays FBI agent Richie Di Maso, who despite being enthusiastic about his work, is a bit in over his head and emotionally unstable. Jennifer Lawrence plays Bale’s wife, a young waitress and former single mother whose emotional outbursts land Bale in hot water on more than one occasion. One of Lawrence’s greatest accomplishments in the film is portraying a character whose sanity is more questionable than that of her Oscar winning “Tiffany” in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The young actress has once again delivered an excellent performance.

However, Bale and Adams are consistently the hardest working actors on screen, and should garner best lead actor/actress Oscar nominations when they are announced on January 16.. Bale expertly portrays the sleaziest of con men, complete with a bad hair-piece and massive beer gut. As one would expect, Bale’s significant weight gain was authentic, further emphasizing the actor’s commitment to his roles and complete disregard for his physical health or appearance (see: The Machinist).

Adams is sharp, sexy and completely dominates a role that requires her to play several characters within one film, which she does so convincingly that audiences will walk out wondering if any of them were her character’s “actual” self. Adams’ acting arsenal was utilized completely, in no small part due to Russell’s superior directing.

Although his appearance as a legendary mob boss was brief, Robert De Niro was fantastic, playing a character so chilling and intimidating that his presence on screen resulted in the film’s most intense scene. Jeremy Renner and Louis CK also have supporting roles in the film, which they both handled aptly.

“American Hustle” stands out in a year full of fantastic movies. It is absolutely worth seeing, and in addition to a top-notch cast and crew, also featuring a plot that will keep audiences guessing until the final scene.

 

RECOMMENDED: David O. Russell continues to establish himself as one of the best directors working in Hollywood today.