A comedic caper with a Martin Scorsese 'Casino' like sensibility and, similarly, a kick ass period soundtrack.
I can't say that I 100% embraced American Hustle the way I did Silver Linings Playbook but the acting is always watchable, the fashions and hair suitably over the top and ridiculous and the script pretty strong. I get the feeling I will enjoy it more a second time.
I felt like it meandered too much, didn't have terrific focus and I thought that Jeremy Renner, while fine, was too young for the role. The impact of his position in the plot I felt through Bale's reactions rather than anything, actually, that Renner did. I thought Jennifer Laurence was good but not completely confident or assured in the role and very often I could see her "acting". It's difficult to shake the fact that Christian Bale, as marvellous as he is in the film, is 'doing' Robert De Niro which gets really confusing and weird when De Niro, himself, shows up for a brief cameo half-way through. Amy Adams is good in all but accent which wavers everywhere. The plot involves her putting on the performance of that of an English lady but her English accent is not defined enough to be English and her American accent isn't strong enough to be clear who she is and what she's doing. This is only a problem in as far as the fact there is a plot point and a reveal that sort of hinges on you being able to tell the difference. Lastly Bradley Cooper is tremendous in the movie, none more so than, in one scene, doing a perfect, physical impression of a surprising and awesome Louis C.K. character. Cooper clearly has hidden talents and is fast becoming O. Russel's De Niro (or DiCaprio to bring it up to date) with him doing, by far, his best work with the Director. I hope they have a long fruitful partnership, I could watch their stuff once a year, no problem.
The plot is all very well and dragged out a bit but the genius of the film is in its character portrayal and in its dark, a lost Coen-esque sense of humour. It doesn't always balance this well with the drama though and it makes a bit light of a situation we're meant to feel rising danger in and the tone is a bit all over the place, to be honest. In parts Broadway Danny Rose and in other parts Casino.
The ending, too, isn't exactly A) a shock B) explained clearly and C) gripping enough to let you walk from the cinema thinking you've seen a great con man caper.
Also, the film, like almost all films these days is 20mins too long.
That being said, however, there is great performances, clever writing and fun, assured direction to enjoy. No words on whether O Russell is still being a massive cock on set though, I like to think not.
No real strong complaints, just not the unmitigated work of genius some would have you believe.
Thinking about it again it's like the Coen brothers seen through the eyes of Scorsese but not as successful as that sounds, still a damn good effort though.
7.5 out of 10