Saturday, December 21, 2013

American Hustle Review: Pimpin' Ain't Easy

I walked into American Hustle not knowing much about it, other that its high score on Rotten Tomatoes (which, let's face it, has become a necessity when debating a night at the theater). I enjoyed Director David O. Russell's last couple of films, but I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, since no one had given out many plot details. Now I know why: This movie is friggin' complicated.

If you need some background information without treading into spoiler territory, here's the deal. Irving Rosenfeld (a...rounder Christian Bale than what we're used to) is a con artist who specializes in fraudulent loans. He meets Amy Adams' Sydney, another hustler who pretends to hustle in a British fashion. Their hustle gets out-hustled by Bradley Cooper's FBI agent Richie DiMasso, who then hustles them into hustling a corrupt New Jersey Mayor (Jeremy Renner). Soon enough, everyone's hustling everyone with a side of fresh hustle.

On paper, this story should be a mess. Yet, American Hustle paces itself so well that it seems as if Russell is walking you through the story while holding your hand and telling you you're pretty. As long as you're paying attention for the 2.5 hour runtime, you should be cool.

I'd love to discuss the story more, but I can't really give that much away without spoiling anything. Plot details are unveiled little by little, and every little bit of the dangling carrot makes you want to know more about the characters and what they all really want in the end.

All of this is pulled off really well by the characters. I've recognized Russell for his work with his actors, because he always gets the performances out of them that best suit the movie. The standouts here are Louis C.K. as DiMasso's boss (Did you know he was in this? Me neither.) and Jennifer Lawrence in her true-to-Internet-folk-hero-status as Rosenfeld's probably-not-sane wife (Yes, he has a wife an a girlfriend. No, it doesn't make sense at first). And Amy Adams greatly captures that "Will they/Won't they" dynamic - not with a love interest, but rather in regards to "Will her boobs fall out of her shirt or won't they?"

Rated R for giving teenage boys funny ideas.
There isn't really much else that needs to be said about American Hustle. It's written, acted, shot and edited well; the period is well-represented by the production design and phenomenal music. Really, you should go see this one before awards season comes around.

Speaking of awards season, what are your picks for the best 2013 had to offer? I'm planning on putting together not a top X list, but rather a list of things I thought were interesting that happened to come out in 2013. But that won't be for a few more weeks since I'm giving myself more time to actually experience what came out in 2013.