In an uncharacteristically trendy move, I saw American Hustle on the day it came out. I had no idea of the plot, but I love Jennifer Lawrence, so I decided to make the most of a slightly hungover New Year’s Day and pop along.
I shall get my big complaint out of the way first, NOT ENOUGH JENNIFER LAWRENCE! As usual she was fantastic, but her part was really very small. The story centres around Christian Bale and Amy Adams, who play con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser. They are busted by FBI Agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), who offers to let them off in exchange for their assistance in entrapping politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). At first it seems very simple, but complications soon arise. The operation grows out of control, thanks to the ambition – and possibly coke habit – of Di Maso, and soon big politicians and the mob are involved, meaning that Irving and Sydney suddenly find themselves facing more danger than they expected.
Overall I found this film very funny. At the helm of the humour was, of course, Jennifer Lawrence, whose performance as Irving’s perpetually hammered wife Rosalyn was hilarious. Her encounter with a microwave will remain in my memory for some time. Bradley Cooper was also very funny as Richie Di Maso. His hideous perm said everything about the vanity of the character. His arrogance blinds him to any possible dangers, and when he is pulled up for attacking his boss, it is clear he considers himself the victim.
The whole cast was brilliant, as you would expect, but for me the revelation was Christian Bale. I’ve seen him very skinny before, but I’ve never seen him as a porker, and he was straining out of his velvet jacket here. His comb-over was absolutely appalling, but despite that he was still a confident and comfortable character. He was the most sympathetic, caught pathetically between his wife and his lover, striving to do the right thing and failing to find a way. As an increasingly puffed up Bradley Cooper moved in on his lover, Bale’s helpless misery was truly moving. I desperately wanted him to win throughout.
We’re coming up to Oscar season, and I think awards may just flock to American Hustle (or at least they should). I haven’t said masses about Amy Adams, but she is always brilliant and this is her best performance since The Fighter. She displayed Sydney’s anger towards Christian Bale and manipulation of Bradley Cooper perfectly; emotion just peeking through a steely exterior. I was amazed to find that she has been nominated four times but never triumphed. Hopefully this will be her year. Similarly, Bradley Cooper has dragged himself out of the shadow of The Hangover and the bloody awful Limitless to display quite a talent for comedy. If he is nominated, I will be rooting for him (despite an ongoing love for Idris Elba).