American Hustle

“American Hustle has been pretty high on my anticipation list this winter. So of course, I jumped at the chance to go to an early screening at Coolige Corner. Okay, maybe not jumped. I delayed my decision a bit because I wasn’t initially convinced it would be worth the high ticket price, and then eventually caved. Except for the long trek in the cold there and back (reminding me why I hadn’t made the trip in the 2+ years since I moved back to Cambridge), yes it was certainly worth it.

What had me excited about this film was the people. I love all of the big names in the cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner. All of that in the extremely capable hands of director David O. Russell. I particularly liked how this cast was basically his leads from his last movie in supporting roles, and his supports from the one before that in lead roles. And as much as I love those previously mentioned boys, it was the girls that really drew me to this.

I’ve been a fan of Amy Adams for ages, and as much as I love her as sweet and sincere, I’m always most impressed when she does something different and surprising. Last time she worked with Russell, she was a bad ass tough cookie. Now she’s a slinky sexy con artist. Except for a lil bit of accent trouble (when she went full on British during her cons it worked, and normal voice worked, but there were some scenes where it seemed she couldn’t decide which to use) she nailed it. I’ve never seen her exude such confidence before. Not that she isn’t a confident actress, but because that’s never quite fit her roles. It was also one of those roles where you could just see her having fun, which was perfect for such a darkly comic film. I couldn’t help but think how much my BFFF, who has been absolutely in love with her for ages, is gonna fall even harder for her. I was hoping this may finally be her winning shot at Oscar gold, but currently the nod seems iffy. Alas, it’s gonna be a very tough year to break into.

But the gal who won’t have any trouble is Jennifer Lawrence. I love that girl too and was getting excited about everything I’d heard about her performance. In my humble opinion, J-Law stole the entire show. Every minute she was on screen, I couldn’t get enough. Every minute she wasn’t, I was just waiting for her to come back. She went toe to toe with actor extraordinare Christian Bale and totally whipped his butt (figuratively, of course). The girl is known for being an unpredictable ball of energy, and she channeled that into a neurotic and even more unpredictable character. This is the kind of performance that jolts award shows, and I actually do hope she pulls off the first back to back win in 20 years.

And of course, I hafta get a few words in about Christian Bale. Once again, he completely transforms and completely loses himself in the role. We haven’t seen this type of levity from him in a while (or ever really). Even though it’s not a laugh out loud Will Ferrell esque role, he still had some golden dialog to deliver that usually resulted in a chuckle out of me.

Right about that tone. I was surprised when I’d heard that Hustle was competing as a comedy at the Globes. It doesn’t immediately look like one. But it’s a very dark humor with a fairly light tone. Given all the conning and double crossing, it’s kind of like Ocean’s without the charm. There was a constant but low buzz of laughter in the sold out auditorium. It was as though almost everything was funny or at least amusing to someone, but not to everyone at the same time, and rarely ever worth of big reactions. Oh and I’d heard (and forgotten but then IMDB reminded me again) the original title of the film. While certainly less MPAA friendly (thus the name change), I certainly find it more fitting. Slightly more playful word than hustle and one that gets used REPEATEDLY throughout.

Now excuse me while I go work on my Oscar campaign for Jennifer Lawrence

American Hustle – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

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