Tuesday, 31 December 2013

American Hustle Review

One of the things I love about Christmas vacation is doing normal people things, like sleeping in, staying up late and eating chocolate for breakfast. When your days are spent in an office from 8-4, it's easy to forget that there is a whole other world out there! Mom gave us movie passes that expired today, so it felt like playing hooky when we took off for the theatre last week. We had planned to see the only showing of non 3D Thor: The Dark World, but got there just too late. The Mister has a lazy eye which means 3D turns into headache vision.

But we were just in time to watch American Hustle, and after a quick check of Rotten Tomatoes, we sat down with a feedbag sized popcorn. Sometimes the best movies are the ones you know nothing about (I didn't even recognize Christian Bale) - and it's easy to see why American Hustle scored so high. The movie is drenched in the sights and sounds of the late 70s, and the cast is just superb in this fictional retelling of the ABSCAM scandal. If you like heist capers, you'll love the convoluted and complicated world of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner/mistress, "Lady" Edith (Amy Adams), as they play federal agents and politicians, and each other too.

Overall, American Hustle felt like a toned down version of Goodfellas or Casino. There's very little violence for a crime caper, and I enjoyed the relationships between the characters. It's also very funny. There's a kind of beauty as the characters want to believe things about themselves and others - and convince others to do so as well (Edith is not British, but from New Mexico!). Irving's friendship with the mayor of Camden, Carmine, is surprisingly touching, and gets complicated when Irving realizes he's never had a real, sincere friend before. My favourite moment had to be a big reveal about Bradley Cooper's FBI agent, Richard DiMaso's personal life that I won't spoil here. Really, American Hustle is easily spoiled by the smallest details, so just get out there and see it :-) You won't regret it.

A lot of the acting was improvised, which showed - the acting was surprisingly real, adding another layer to the whole real/fake theme. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Irving's neglected and unstable wife, Roslyn. She was really channelling a spurned woman, and you just know that it's coming from a very personal place. After being confronted by Edith in the ladies room when the two accidentally meet, she plants a big kiss on Edith. There was no faking Amy Adams' shocked reaction! The crazier the scheme gets, the more stressed Irving becomes - and I was even beginning to feel stressed from watching Christian Bale.

My only complaint about the movie is that the ending wraps up a little too neatly after all the messiness, but at 138 minutes, it just ran out of time (as almost did my bladder). We definitely want to see it again, as there were a few places where all the plots, double crosses and characters left us trying to remember how it all connected afterwards.