Movie #134 2021: American Hustle (2013)

Anyone my age with some sort of awareness of the world of cinema will remember the hype that surrounded this movie back in 2013. Nominated for a monstrous ten Oscars and filled with an ensemble cast of remarkably famous faces including Jennifer Lawrence when she was prime Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle never really appealed to me. So of course I decided to watch it!

Set in the late 1970s, the film is based on a true event in history known as ‘Abscam’, in which a group of conmen banded together to traffick lost and stolen property. After members of congress got involved, the FBI stepped in. Though the film is light on the government conspiracy plot, it focuses on the corrupt businessmen behind it, led chiefly by Christian Bale and Amy Adams as Irving and Sydney respectively. When their scheme is uncovered, the group are blackmailed into working for a rogue FBI agent, forcing them to become involved with the mafia.

The Original American Hustle is Alive and Well and Targeting Entrepreneurs  |

It all sounds so exciting and mysterious, doesn’t it?! Well, don’t be fooled. You’re telling me that this shittier, seventies version of Ocean’s Eleven earned 10 Oscar nominations? SURE, JAN. At least there’s more than one female character, I guess. And there’s a reason it didn’t win a single one.

Okay, let me start with the good things. The seventies aesthetic of it all – garish costumes and set dressing, the terrible wigs, the jaunty jazz soundtrack – it’s all spot on. These technical aspects force me to admit that this film is not a total flop and the attention to detail was very particular and well done. But that’s pretty much where the positives end.

American Hustle Movie |

It’s weird to me that Bradley Cooper gives the best performance in this movie – it seems like he’s the only one who got the memo that American Hustle was meant to be a black comedy. Don’t worry, I’m not going to commit slander: Amy Adams is typically wonderful and she gets the job done too. However, Christian Bale takes the whole thing way too seriously, and Jennifer Lawrence excruciatingly overacts from head to toe. It just felt like none of this cast were on the same page, so it ended up being a bit of a mess tonally.

As for the plot, the first 30 minutes were actually quite intriguing and set up the rest of the movie well. After that, it all gets confusing, incredibly boring and it falls completely flat. How can you possibly transform a story that is so interesting and insane into something that is so tedious and long?! The script is not well paced or exciting in any way, and were it not for the big names and the good looking façade, American Hustle would have been universally panned. I have no doubt about it. In fact, it would probably have been forgotten about by now.

On the whole, this film is the epitome of style over substance and now I understand why no one’s mentioned it since 2013. Such a snooze fest that even a brilliant De Niro cameo couldn’t save it. But it does look pretty at least.

American Hustle is available to stream on Amazom Prime Video in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

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