Thursday, January 2, 2014

American Hustle

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner
Director: David. O Russell

Running Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes
Rating: R

I've decided that I enjoy David O. Russell's directing, but I can't get into his writing. "The Fighter," which he directed, is one of my favorite movies of the past 5 years, but I couldn't get on the "Silver Linings Playbook" bandwagon (which he wrote and directed), and I'm not about to board the "American Hustle" train (which he co-wrote and directed.) I may be one of the two people in the world who didn't salivate and flip over his latest production, but I felt like it was entirely too long, and the story arc got bigger than it needed to. Had the movie stayed like the first 20 minutes were, focusing on the characters and their relationships, I would have been a very happy camper. Instead, I couldn't wait for it to end, and wanted it to get to the point already. (Spoiler - it doesn't). The film isn't as good as the critical acclaim and publicity it is receiving.

If you loved the movie, are you sure that you didn't just love the performances? Because indeed they are incredible. You can tell Russell likes to play favorites, having worked with Bale, Adams, Lawrence and Cooper before. Christian Bale is flawless as per usual as con man Irving Rosenfeld. Bale nails his roles every time, most notably in "The Fighter," for which he won an Oscar. Bradley Cooper is possibly at his best as off-the-walls FBI agent Richie, who gives Rosenfeld and his lady love (Amy Adams) a chance at skipping jail time if they help him catch, ahem, frame, four other "con men." This includes bribing the innocent mayor of Camden, NJ (Jeremy Renner). Already, too many plots within a plot happening.

I got pretty tired of Amy Adams and her fake British accent, but I wanted to see more of Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Rosenfeld's sorry excuse for a wife. As a colleague said, Adams is always a bridesmaid, never a bride. JLaw is the comedic relief in the film, but it's because her character is more dynamic. The story gets too complicated here, bringing in fun cameos as well as a lot of wordy dialogue. The plot just gets too thick and loses me.

With the database of classic disco music to use as a soundtrack (the film takes place in 1978), I was underwhelmed with the selection. I really think that my expectations of the film were so high, that anything other than exceptional was a disappointment. I hope people see other films that are currently in theatres before falling all over themselves for this one.

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