3 Points on American Hustle (movie review)

We finally got around to seeing American Hustle and it’s fair to say that the build up to watching the picture might have pulled some of the luster off the surface. Nevertheless, I certainly understand why everyone enjoyed it so much but I can also see what people mean when they say it’s two hours of people yelling at each other. Here are three points on American Hustle for both sides of the argument.

What’s working? Photography/Visuals
Film is a visual medium and American Hustle has got it where it counts. I love what director David O’Russell and his team did with the camera, sets and props – they way they places the actors in the frame… it’s all good. There’s lots of interesting (the dry cleaner store’s moving clothing rack) and unique (the dancing reflection on the ceiling) shots in this movie… blah blah blah. What I’m saying is it’s beautiful to look at – well done, folks!

What’s working? Performances
Holy crap, everyone who is in this flick is fantastic. This movie is perfectly cast – casting should get more credit for a film’s success. American Hustle is the anti Attack of the Clones. Louis C.K. is absolutely perfect as Bradley Cooper’s boss and of course, if you want a super scary mafia guy, there’s no one better than Robert De Niro. Of course, I think we all already knew that Christian Bale could do anything by this point, but it’s fun to watch him actually do it. I feel the same way about Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner. What I’m saying is everyone gives an amazing performance – well done, folks!

What’s not working? Story/Pacing
As the very first thing they show you in this movie is a disclaimer that reads (as best I can remember) "Some of these things actually happened," I thought that meant they were taking someone’s story and bending it to fit the structure of a film, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt kinda ll over the place – that device they use at the very beginning of the film where they drop us into the halfway mark of the first act just makes things all the more confusing. (This is my least favorite device in film.) Sure, it established tone, but this movie is all about tone, so it just broke up the flow of a story I didn’t think was particularly easy to follow despite the fact that it’s not especially complicated. By the time the movie was over, I was fully up to speed, but I felt like I was constantly playing catch up. This is in part due to the scope, intertwining stories and large cast, but the music wasn’t helping. The music got to be intrusive – it would but in, screaming, like a petulant child, and it hurt the pacing and distracted from what was happening on screen. I like classic rock more than the next guy, but dial it back a little, fellas – this isn’t Forest Gump, it’s a character study… of twenty characters. That’s probably why the whole movie feels like oscar clip porn. There are so many scenes in this movie – scenes that feel like stuff someone thought would be really cool to have in a movie, but they kinda don’t always move the plot along. For example, during the singing in the restaurant scene – I already understood that there was a friendship between Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner. Things like that… good scenes, but not especially helpful to the narrative.

Just to be clear, I liked American Hustle. A LOT. It’s at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and deservedly so – it’s a great movie. I just don’t think it’s perfect, but what’s good about it is so good, it hardly matters. I’m giving American Hustle a 9 out of 10. It’s an A picture, it’s just not an A+.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on May 20, 2014, in lists, movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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