American Hustle, You Are not Conning Anyone

Photo by Francois Duhamel - © 2013 Annapurna Productions LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo by Francois Duhamel  © 2013 Annapurna Productions LLC All Rights Reserved

You might have heard of American Hustle. It is a film by David O. Russell that is nominated for a bunch of Oscars, including Best Picture. Don’t be fooled: it is not worthy of that nomination.

The acting is good, I can confirm that – even though all the actors involved have given better performances than in this movie -, but you cannot raise a film as one of the best of the year just because of that. It is insane and a mere strategy of the studios to get more prestige. A film can be terrible and still contain great performances, just think of The Queen, Black Swan, Capote… Good actors do not make a good movie; you need many different aspects to create it.

Photo by Francois Duhamel - © 2013 Annapurna Productions LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo by Francois Duhamel  © 2013 Annapurna Productions LLC All Rights Reserved

Which takes us to American Hustle, a movie about Americans conning people, as the title implies. Christian Bale, a man you can always trust he will give the best of him with every role, plays the main character, a conman partnered with Amy Adams to steal money from naïve investors – there is a film that does the same in a more interesting way, and it is called The Wolf of Wall Street.

Apart from Bale and Adams, Bradley Cooper plays a FBI agent who forces them to cooperate with them to catch corrupt politicians. The group is completed by one of those politicians, played by Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s bored housewife.

As I said, the acting is good, but they have all done better things. Cooper is okay, although his performance on Silver Linings Playbook was more deserving of an Oscar nod. The script is witty and has some nice punchlines, but it does not save the story from becoming long at some points.

In fact, the notes I took while I was watching it reflect that: after 40 minutes, I simply wrote “long”. A bit later, I wrote “loooooong”, and shortly afterwards, my notes just said “LOOOONG WHAT’S GOING ON?!?” – taken literally from my notepad. Ten minutes before the film ended, my final words said “it’s still on…”. There is a reason why the saying “the longer the film, the better it is” – which I just made up – only applies to Scorsese and Tarantino.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said earlier this month at the Golden Globes that American Hustle was originally called “Explosion at the wig factory”. If that is a sign of what matters on this movie, I would recommend you to watch it for the odd hairstyles, the costumes and the music, which is the same advice I would give about The Great Gatsby.

Photo by Francois Duhamel - © 2013 Annapurna Productions LLC All Rights Reserved

Photo by Francois Duhamel  © 2013 Annapurna Productions LLC All Rights Reserved

I had such high hopes. It is not that I wasted my time, not at all. I enjoyed American Hustle, but the same way I might like other films, and that does not mean they have to be nominated for some of the greatest accolades. You have a good time, even if it is – I will say it again – long, and it also has Louis C.K. and Robert DeNiro.

O .Russell, who made a movie I am really fond of called Three Kings, is starting to become an overrated director with so many Academy Award nominations and such. If they keep on recognising him for work that does not deserve it, what is going to happen when he actually does? I believe there is a story that sums it up, and it is called Peter and the Wolf.

The Academy Awards have a section called Best Short Film, where O. Russell could have submitted the footage of Jennifer Lawrence singing “Live and Let Die’ while she is cleaning the house, which was maybe the best part, because the rest will soon be forgotten.

It could have saved so much time, honestly. Christian Bale has better things to do.

 

Related stories:

American Hustle Review – The Guardian

Grand Scam – The New Yorker

American Hustle – The Washington Post

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Categories: Film | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “American Hustle, You Are not Conning Anyone

  1. Completely agree. And I love that you mentioned The Wolf Of Wall Street. I had a few issues with the acting in this film, though. I found Lawrence, Bale & Renner to be the only bearable ones.

    I reviewed it, along with Wall St. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    http://thereeljunkie.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/film-review-american-hustle-2013/

    http://thereeljunkie.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/film-review-the-wolf-of-wall-street-2013/

  2. Pingback: Predicting the BAFTA Winners | Corleones & Lannisters

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