Tuesday, December 24, 2013

American Hustle- Movie Review by Sean Wu

Based on the first trailer, and the first scene of the first trailer, there is only one thing you need to know about the film: That there are two sides to everything and everyone. This is initially telling when Irving Rosenfeld (a hugely chubby Christian Bale) points out a forged Rembrandt picture to FBI agent Richie DiMaso (an off-the-walls Bradley Cooper).

So everything is more than meets-the-eye, and that's what makes the movie great. Literally everything is detailed, every main character is three-dimensional, every scene is thorough and fleshed-out, and many hilarious lines of dialogue mean more than they seem. It's a work of genius, the film, because it is so intelligent, well-crafted, and well-made.

David O. Russell was a promising director in the 1990's, with the acclaimed Three Kings and the hilarious Flirting with Disaster (a film that is approach eighteen years and is still funny), but faded out of the limelight in the 2000's. It's amazing what a resurgence he has made in this decade alone, with the excellent The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. Between those two films, he earned seven acting nominations. I expect American Hustle to contribute to that number, because the performances are EXCELLENT. Christian Bale is transformative, Amy Adams simmers with sex, Bradley Cooper is doing crazy, and Jennifer Lawrence... you've heard the buzz about her work. Even Louis C.K. steals every scene he is in.

So its obvious that O. Russell is an actor's director, but he can also thank the screenplay by Eric Warren Singer. The dialogue is great because of all the wit and conflict, but it hits the nail on the head of what is most important: structure. It is necessarily coherent and detailed, especially for a film this twisty and coated with deceit. Great stuff.

Props to the soundtrack choices, because the '70's rock fits in brilliantly. There's a scene when Jennifer Lawrence cleans the house, and it is maybe one of the best scenes of the year, namely due to the music involved. Actually, all the behind the scenes stuff is great, from production design (that dance scene with Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper: WOW!) to cinematography. This is a film that is looking multiple nominations dead in the eye. It's not a masterpiece (just didn't resonate emotionally,), but its a great film. I cannot wait to see what O. Rusell does next.

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