On this day, an epic battle raged for my movie dollar between American Hustle and Thor 2: The Dark World.
The battle raged for at least 6 seconds, coming to a dramatic conclusion when I took one look at the cast of American Hustle. Thor 2 was consigned to crouch in its dark world for at least another week.
Besides I was 21 when the 70s ended. This just struck a big fat chord in me. Big fat hair, big fat music, big fat everything.
So, American Hustle is the somewhat true tale of the FBI attempts in the late 70s to ensnare some politicians and mobsters in bribery scandals. Conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) with his lover, soul-mate and partner-in-crime Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) carry out a range of cons on desperate victims. Rosenfield has a complicated life with an unstable wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and adopted son. Prosser’s life in much simpler. The pair of con artists love their work. In fact their calling.
Things become complicated when Sydney fails to read the danger signs on one mark (Bradley Cooper‘s FBI agent Richie DiMaso) and they find themselves having to setup a range of stings to keep their freedom. DiMaso is as wild as Irving’s wife is unhinged and he keeps pushing the pair onto larger targets ending-up with New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). This however also entails scamming the mob, including a ruthless heavy weight from Florida (Robert De Niro).
On a cold read this must look like a fairly routime type of crime-drama narrative. It is anything but.
This is thanks to the fabulous characters that populate this sensuous and delightful film. Richly, compassionately and acutely well drawn, there are no villains here. Just people with varying degrees of bad luck, bad plans and bad hairdos.
It’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Not a note missed. The acting from all 5 leads is wonderful. I’d have to pick Amy Adams though as the best of a distinguished group. Sensuous, powerful, cold and calculating at times, achingly vulnerable at others. Lady MacBeth meets Marilyn Munroe. Jennifer Lawrence comes a very close second. Following on from “Silver Linings Playbook” she has developed quite a flair for head-casery.
Did I mention the writing? Not yet? Well its superb. Such tremendous dialogue, can’t remember the last time I wanted to sit in a film and write the lines down, deft, touching, hilarious and profound. And if the writings good its all good.
The cast of minor characters was the best I’ve seen in a long time. Incredibly cast and written to perfection. No cardboard cutouts here folks.
To top it off is a sound track to die for and a visual 70s vibe that, like, jumped off the screen man.
Oh yes, I’m going to watch it again.
10 out of 10 (on my hopelessly liberal and romanticised scale)