Over-hyped drama actually worth the wait

2014-03-04 00:00

Review: American Hustle

IF I had to describe a beautiful girl to somebody as Faye Dunaway in the early 1970s, but when that person actually sees that girl, she looks more like Barbra Streisand in 2014 — the problem in this situation is high expectations.

American Hustle was released in December overseas, and South Africans had to wait a whole two months before director David O. Russell’s new film made it to our shores.

In that period the foreign media had gone absolutely over-enthusiastic with this 10-time Oscar-nominated film, giving it such praise that the expectation of it was actually quite overwhelming.

Set in the backdrop of the late 1970s in New Jersey, Christian Bale plays a smooth, calm, calculated and confident Irving Rosenfeld.

He is a businessman with a few drycleaning operations, but his main source of income is art dealing, and of course hustling the desperate out of their money with a loan shark scam.

Irving’s swindling days get better when he falls in love with the seductive Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and together they get business to an all-time high, until they are put out of action by the FBI.

Bradley Cooper plays Richie DiMaso, an agent who wants to bite off more than he can chew and forces Irving and Sydney to take down white-collar criminals.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Rosalyn, Irving’s blonde, sexy, self-indulgent wife with a drinking problem. Initially I thought that she was too young to the play the role, but I have never been so wrong in my life. Jeremy Renner plays mayor Carmine Polito, the target that Cooper’s character is determined to get behind bars.

The plot starts off being simple enough, with Bale’s character handling the situation, until things spiral out of control with the worlds of con artists, FBI agents, and mob bosses sent on a collision course. And the results are explosive.

With such a rock-solid cast, the acting is nothing but award-winning.

I wished that this could have been a Christian Bale show, but I am glad it wasn’t as every actor puts on a performance worthy of taking home a golden statue.

Bale again goes through a drastic physical transformation and delivers a convincing fat, balding and self-assured con artist. Lawrence and Adams also shine in their respective roles, and one scene that stands out is their “cat fight” in a bathroom — watch out for it.

Bad hair, questionable clothing, strong characters, a good plot with cracking dialogue and an exceptional soundtrack, all work well to complement the effort put in by the director to give American Hustle the superiority of getting mixed up with awards season.

It is a well-built crime drama with a few laugh-out-loud moments and will keep audiences captivated from start to finish.

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