Prolific director David O. Russell has dipped into his bag of actors to come up with the dream cast of ‘American Hustle’. Of the five stars of the film, four of them are repeat players, all of whom have received Oscar nominations for their previous work with the director, with two of them resulting in wins - it’s clear that when David O. Russell calls you up, you say "yes" without hesitation. And therein lies the beauty of a Russell picture - he doesn’t distract you with signature camera shots, looks or scenes like others of his calibre, he simple assembles great actors and lets them chew the shit out of his scenery, which is something spectacular to watch.
When 70s conman/dry-cleaner chain owner Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at a pool party, the pair connect over a shared love of Duke Ellington and instantly fall in love. With an innate ability to reinvent themselves in order to do what is necessary to get what they want and survive, the duo become a formidable con team. When they eventually get busted by FBI climber Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), they’re offered a deal - help bust four big fish and they can be on their merry way. Targeting New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) as he looks to develop Atlantic centre into a gambling capital, things escalate quickly when the targets become high-level politicians and the mob gets involved - but the biggest wild card comes courtesy of Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), which nobody sees coming. As is warned during the opening titles, “Some of this actually happened” - so buckle up.
The story is a little too long-winded, takes too long to get into, and the payoff isn’t nearly as satisfactory as it should be, and yet the dialogue is so smart and the characters are so defined and entertaining you’re too transfixed to notice the story you don’t really care about anyway because of those characters and those performances! Even with everyone producing A+ work that would earn each virtuoso well-deserved praise a thousand times over, Lawrence still steals the show in the most delightful, effervescent and unexpected way. She's a sight to behold and a talent so ridiculous you want to hate her, but she’s just so real and loveable.
With a soundtrack to drool over and a tale that never lets you know which way is up in the most exciting way, undoubtedly this film will garner a slew of awards over the season - and if Lawrence doesn’t walk away with back-to-back Academy awards, I will eat my hat. Sorry Oprah.