I’d seen American Hustle soon after its release and till this time I’d been pondering what to make of it. I just couldnt figure out why it was acclaimed so much.
David O Russell has become a go-to guy for Oscars it seems. No matter what movie he makes, its bound to win at least one Academy Award or at least get a couple of nominations. He’s being doing it in a row and American Hustle has undoubtedly ended up on everybody’s favorite list, some even preferring it more than Martin Scorsese’s debauchery epic The Wolf of Wall Street or Steve McQueen’s period drama on slavery, 12 Years a Slave. Myself having seen American Hustle, though, would stand on the other side of the fence.
Silver Linings Playbook was one of those fine movies which captured my short attention span from start till end. Owe it all to the fabulous performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper coupled with David O Russell’s offbeat injection of comedy. While I could be called a Jennifer Lawrence superfan, I was not a big fan of Bradley Cooper, thanks to Alias, I could never shake off the image of Will Tippin from my mind but what can I say Silver Linings Playbook did make a fan outta me, well atleast of his performance more rather than him. The Fighter was another film that had everything going for it, solid performances from Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, David’s direction and a brilliant script. David O Russell, far from his I Heart Huckabees days was indeed churning out finely made movies.
American Hustle held a lot of promises having pulled the inexplicably talented stars from both Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. A slew of arguably the best actors from Hollywood but were they put to best use? I’ll stick with ‘Nah’. The actors however were at their best, having fun with their respective roles. American Hustle has a lot of style as well, the actors and the settings were all set ablaze with genuine looking costumes and props. I mean the direction was good, actors were plenty and performed well but all that doesnt make a great movie? I was irked by two issues: 1: The Pacing. Compared to The Wolf of Wall Street’s 3 Hours which felt like a breeze, American Hustle’s mere 138 felt laboring. It did have its fast moments but at times it felt excruciatingly slow. And problem number 2: The obvious predictability. I dont know if it was intended that way but the predictability this movie carried made me question O Russell. Considering this was a con movie, everybody would agree the final revelation wasn’t the least epic Hey, I was brewn so, expecting something revelatory is totally normal and would have just made American Hustle GREAT. a la Oceans Eleven!
Christian Bale’s amazing sincerity towards his role had been evident from frame one. We’ve seen him get emaciated in The Machinist then get beefed up for his Batman roles then again get thin in The Fighter. Here we’ve got a flabby potbellied balding Bale in the role of Irving Rosenfeld. Bale has once again shows us that he can take on any kinda role, superhero or not. Bradley Cooper yet again displays off his acting prowess and shows that he’s come a long way from his Alias days. Amy Adams proves that she can sizzle both as a commercial or arthouse actress, be it Lois Lane or the insanely glamorous Sydney Prosser. Her side bosom gets a special mention as well. Jennifer Lawrence as the raunchy Rosalyn Rosenfeld was so adorable despite her slightly grey tone in the movie. Its impossible not to like her even when she plays a horny, yammering, naggy wife…and does it near perfectly. To see C K Louis was a pleasant surprise and scenes with him and Bradley Cooper did pack a lot of laughs. Jeremy Renner ends up in a solid role, this guy had been looked upon post his Hawkeye role but I am glad that he did an excellent job as Mayor Carmine Polito.
American Hustle’s soundtrack, though was thoroughly enjoyable, be it along with the visuals or not. The score composed by Danny Elfman really stood out and kept a admirably fast pace for an otherwise slow procession of things. The selection of songs featured on the OST was also noteworthy.
Agreed, American Hustle had great performances, a decent storyline and excellent direction and in all sense its a perfectly watchable flick but does it deserve an Academy Award just for affixing ‘America’ to its title? Not quite. I have nothing against the Academy’s incline towards American movies or directors but there is a roster of much better movies nominated this year which genuinely deserves it.