Director: David O. Russell
When Sydney (Adams) meets Irving (Bale), she is swept away by his devil-may-care lifestyle, selling forged art and arranging small cons. Together, they become ambitious and arrange larger cons and they quickly fall in love, but Irving refuses to leave his wife Rosalyn (Lawrence), whose son he has adopted as his own. When a con turns sour and the couple are caught by ambitious FBI agent Richie (Cooper), they are persuaded to run a sting to catch other conmen they know; except Richie's dreams to make a name for himself drive him further and further into the underworld, thirsty to expose corrupt politicians and mobsters. As they conspire to entrap a corrupt mayor (Renner), the small-time con artists find themselves in way over their heads, especially as Rosalyn unwittingly becomes involved in the operation and begins accidentally revealing information to the Mafia.
Any good period film should either make you want to live in that time period, or make you realise how lucky you are not to. American Hustle is definitely the former. The camera whizzes through 1970s New York with lush colours, glamorous locations and costumes that would make you think it was the coolest time ever to be alive. Its soundtrack skips through music that sounds as fresh today as the day it was recorded and with its soft-focus, unusual close-ups and wide panning shots, the camerawork leaves you feeling drunk, swimming through this heady world of chintz, hairspray and halternecks. Its art direction, cinematography and costume design are remarkable, giving us the glamour of Boogie Nights with the reality of Mean Streets. And the best way to describe the film as a whole is to say that it's as though Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese directed a film together; and that's one hell of a compliment.
I could watch American Hustle again and again. While 12 Years A Slave will pack the emotional punch at this year's awards and Gravity continues to stun with its scale of technical achievement, a well-crafted film like this may well get left behind. However, this is one of the finest films you will see this year, and on only the 4th January I worry that I won't see anything better in 2014. I just hope that this gets the audience it deserves, because it's easy for it to get lost in the Awards Season. In the 90s and before, American Hustle would have had a summer release and could have become one of the highest grossing films of its year; now it will be seen by a select few because of the dominance of franchise films. I'm not bashing franchise films, which obviously have their place, but I just wish that a film like this could be placed as a tentpole release and not slip out in the January Awards blitz. However, at least it now should get the attention from the awards that could up its profile and increase its box office as a result.
If you like a gangster film, a hustle film, a 70s film, a crime comedy, a performance showcase, slick cinematography or beautiful costumes, see American Hustle immediately. If nothing else, see it to confirm that Jennifer Lawrence really is Hollywood's Golden Girl; she can head a franchise, she can lead a rom-com, she can act her socks off and by God, she can win an Oscar or two as well. She's 23 years old and I wouldn't be surprised if her second statuette appears on her mantlepiece before she's 30. And as for Amy Adams; the homely and sweet girl from Enchanted and Doubt has finally found her sexy side, and you wouldn't think for a second that she's nearly hitting 40! The title of 'The New Meryl Streep' has been placed on her shoulders by many critics, and with what looks her fifth Oscar nomination just around the corner, they could well be right.