American Hustle

WRITTEN BY: David O'Russell, Eric Singer
DIRECTED BY: David O'Russell
STARRING: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner
RATING: 2.5 stars

Do you know why everyone has been talking so much about the hairstyles in American Hustle? Because there is not much else to talk about. The film is far too long and the plot unravels at a painfully slow pace. American Hustle has been promoted as a dark comedy but there were hardly any laughs, except from the extremely talented Jennifer Lawrence. The concept is good and the music is great, but the execution of the substantive plot was at times quite weak.

Loosely based on true events and set in New York in 1978, American Hustle tells the story of con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who are forced to work for FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso wants them to help him catch some badly-behaving politicians, a sheik and some mafia identities, as well as New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Seemingly, the only thing standing in their way is Irving's unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence).

Director David O'Russell has assembled stars from his previous films, The Fighter and The Silver Linings Playbook, and they work hard to hold the film together. Bale is almost unrecognisable, having gained a lot of weight. He is one of the most reliable actors working today. Cooper has never impressed me as an actor and he does little in this film to change my opinion of his abilities despite some dramatic moments. Adams is good, but her character takes on a fake English accent and she unintentionally slips several times. Renner is very good in quite a different role for him. Robert DeNiro also has a small role as a mob boss, but he is not used enough. Louis C.K. plays Richie's FBI boss and also provides some light entertainment with his running gag of trying to tell Richie a story about ice-fishing. But it is Lawrence who steals every scene she is in with her drama and comedic timing. I wanted to see more of her.

American Hustle had a lot of potential. It has received some award attention recently, but I found it lacking much interest.