This was a train which, honestly, I thought I’d missed. Ash and I were going to see
American Horror Story American Hustle a good few weeks ago, but for some reason we never quite made it. But since it was the only one of the four main Oscar films of the year which we hadn’t managed to get along to (the others being The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity).
So with no small sense of duty, we headed out through the rainy dark to Southend Odeon’s last showing of it, following a beacon of 70s nostalgia through to a promised land of acting and entertainment brilliance.
Now, I’m very aware that opinion has been divided on American Hustle
Story. I usually avoid reading other reviews until I’ve see a film, made up my mind, and written my own review. Given that as I’ve already said I wasn’t expecting to see it, I didn’t cling to that here — so I know that some viewers have found it a little disorganised and superficial.
I am not one of those viewers. Yes, I really enjoyed American Hustle. It was well acted, the story was engaging, but above all: it was fun.
The film follows Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a pair of con artists forced to help FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to trap corrupt politicians in a sting operation, particularly Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Whilst Irving’s depressed wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) threatening to derail the whole thing at any moment. In the 70s.
My first thought about American
Horror Hustle was that I’m pretty sure that it is more 70s than the 70s themselves. I wasn’t there at the time, so I can’t say for sure, but it would be hard pressed to have outdone this film. From Christian Bale’s “rather elaborate comb-over”, to Bradley Cooper’s Saturday Night Fever-esque disco routine, to Irving and Rosalyn’s home.
Secondly, there are some distinct similarities with Ocean’s Eleven. Except — and please don’t let that put you off — unlike Ocean’s Eleven it isn’t anyone’s ego-vehicle. And the plot is realistic, rather than unbearably smug. And I’m pretty sure that there won’t be two sub-par sequels.
I’d also say that this is the best acting that Christian Bale has done in a long while. Probably since The Machinist (the first person who tries to tell me the Batman trilogy was well-acted…). It’s not just the make-up and hair, but the way he carries himself. He’s quiet, but confident and emotional in a way that too often seems to escape him.
Amy Adams, too, manages to give a very good performance as Irving’s mistress and con-partner. Honestly, I’d written her off after a lacklustre performance as Lois Lane in Man of Steel. Now that it appears she does have emotional range, I’m forced to downgrade Zack Snyder even further.
And, yes, it would be churlish not to mention Jennifer Lawrence. Despite being about fourteen (She’s two days older than you… – Ed.) she has the gravitas to play a grown woman. Which isn’t exactly a surprise, having seen Catching Fire, but still. It’s nice.
But I’m stuck on just how much fun American Hustle was to watch. It was obvious that everyone making it had an absolute ball in the process, and that is important. If the cast and crew aren’t having a good time, how are the audience supposed to? I’m glad I did go to see it, and if you still can, I think you’ll be glad too.
Now if only I could stop verbally conflating it with American Horror Story…