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Review: American Hustle

We take a look at the 70’s wonder that is American Hustle.


It would be hard to have missed the build up to the release of American Hustle. The poster, which is everywhere, features five of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars of the moment. We certainly noticed one Mr Bradley Cooper with a questionable perm. The trailer promises a fast paced joy ride through 70s America, filled with decadence and bad hairstyles. But does the film live up to its own hype?

To begin with we had some doubts. The film starts with a lot of voice over; some choppy scenes and a jazz soundtrack that feels a bit like a perfume advert. But by the end we were completely awe struck.

The look of the film is flawless. Often times a film set in history is so busy being true to the period that it forgets to add it’s own style. For American Hustle this is clearly not the case. It’s decadent, and at times predictable, but not for one moment did we question its authenticity. The fashion, the garish patterns and indeed the hair that is so 70s it could borderline farce but somehow it works. It isn’t cheesy when Christian Bale wears a valour suit- it's just 70s. The film feels luxurious: the appliances are new, the clothes are cutting edge; it's the out-dated 70s style we’ve seen time and time again, and love.

There isn’t a weak link in the solid iron cast. Partly through costume and partly through make-up, but largely down to skill as an actor, Christian Bale is unrecognisable in this film. Very occasionally you find yourself wondering how they got Bale to look so bad, but for the most part you cannot take your eyes off of his performance. Alongside Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper do smoulder and we were very aroused. Adams walks a wonderful line between manipulating and vulnerable. However it’s Jennifer Lawrence for us that steals the show. Her part as the stay at home mother and wife could’ve been very small. But Lawrence proves that there are no small parts for great actresses. She provides the most intense emotions of the film. Lawrence sometimes makes you laugh and can also break your heart.

The strength of the film - but also its big weakness - lies in the script. Eric Singer and David O. Russell make a formidable duo, as the dialogue is pure genius. It’s so fast and funny and real. It’s the same quality in Silver Linings Playbook, which makes the characters leap off the page. The only weakness to the film is the complicated plot. It was hard to follow for some of us at GT. Much like Ocean’s Elven, the majority of the plot is only revealed at the end, so for most of the film you have to just succumb to the fact that you’re confused. If you work for MI5 then maybe you’ll follow it but for the rest of us, just try to go along with it and maybe at the end you’ll get it. But then maybe you won’t.

Purely because of the confusing nature, this film could feel, at times, to be more style over substance. But stick with it, ignore the slightly irritating voice over and just enjoy watching performances that are sure to be recognised come awards season.

GT gives this: 4 / 5

Words: Martin Dixon / @MartinJDixon

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