Friday, December 20, 2013

American Hustle is zany, funny film

By James Colt Harrison

Having just won the Best Picture accolade from the New York Film Critics Circle, Columbia Pictures’ American Hustle provides laughs and thrills. It’s one of the best and most enjoyable films of the year, and director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) has made an outrageously entertaining film about corrupt politicians and the FBI.

With an incredibly talented cast consisting of Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Robert DeNiro, the film also won the Best Ensemble Cast from the New York Film Critics Online association.

The fllm takes a look at an FBI sting operation on the East coast to convict several politicians on corruption charges. It’s based partly on a true story that actually happened, but the movie is a fictionalized version of the events. Russell and Singer have created a script that captures the 1970s era perfectly. The sprightly dialogue and mad-dash pace of the film give it an updated look of the great old days of caper comedy. In fact, Jennifer Lawrence reminds film fans of 40s glamour puss Carole Lombard and her adept playing of physical comedy while remaining a pristine beauty.

We have to say a word about the funniest hair-do in the film or any other film that comes to mind. Christian Bale, a sleazy con-man at best, has the funniest comb-over and the most terrible rug ever seen on screen. He’s transfixed with his hair and is always trying to straighten it out. It’s hilarious!

Bale (Irving Rosenfeld) and buxom girlfriend and former stripper Amy Adams (Sydney) run a nice little con game of fleecing potential patsies to get them loans. Unfortunately they reel in FBI agent Bradley Cooper ( as Richie DeMaso) who, in turn, forces them into helping him with trapping at least four baddies.

Jeremy Renner plays Carmine Polito, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, who has been frustrated about redeveloping Atlantic City. He’s a nice man and honest, but he, too, is ensnared in Bale’s crazy money schemes. Cooper is an overly enthusiastic FBI Agent wanting to make a mark for himself and is sometimes out of control. In the process, Cooper shows his ability as a funny man who perm-curls his hair as a disguise. Cooper is showcasing his talents at farce after having been so good in the dramatic Silver Linings Playbook last year. He comes through brilliantly and shows he is more than a TV actor.

Without throwing aspersions on the rest of the cast, we must say Jennifer Lawrence steals the picture. In fact, several film critics have selected her as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Bale’s nutty and unpredictable wife Rosalyn. She has a big mouth and inadvertently spills the beans, only to complicate the sting operation and throws everything into chaos. She’s hilariously funny, wildly beautiful in a disheveled way, and seems the perfect candidate to become our next lovely physical comedienne in the mold of Lucille Ball, the aforementioned Lombard, and rapier-tongued Eve Arden.

The film is a triumph of terrific acting and sparkling dialogue set into ridiculous situations. Director Russell gets the most out of his actors and leads them through a very funny and entertaining picture.

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