American Hustle (2013)

The style of this movie is hard to really get a handle on. I know that we are expected to simply accept the world as presented to us so that we can all move on with the story, but I found many of the details - while correct - distracting. You'll see what I mean as this review progresses.

Christian Bale plays an overweight, balding low-level con man with a bad comb-over. He does a really good job with the role, but I found both his hair and his gut a bit distracting. This was the guy who played Batman. He played an emaciated guy in The Machinist. At some point, his organs are going to rebel and kill him. I understand that he's been under a doctor's care for his gaining and losing of weight, but so was Michael Jackson.

Bradley Cooper plays an FBI agent who gets leverage against Christian and uses the leverage to try to get whoever he can with Christian's unique skillset - politicians, mobsters, pimps, whoever. At one point, he wears a shirt open to the navel with medallions on his chest - classic seventies. The character is very driven, and he gets this taste of catching high-profile criminals and absolutely needs to get more and more. He gets too agressive, and he may over-use his leverage. He always seems to be on that line. Bradley probably devlivers the best performance that I've seen him give.

Jeremy Renner plays a local politician who is portrayed as a family man who does what he can to better the community. He is painted like a saint to us, the audience, right off the bat. The fact that he takes bribes is incidental to his story, and it is downplayed by pretty much everyone including those people who are setting him up. Things get complicated by the relationship that he and Christian develop during the meat of the sting.  Jeremy does a pretty good job, but I'm really starting to think that the strength of his acting talent is a bit weaker than I had originally expected.

Amy Adams brings significant cleavage and questionable hair styles. Her acting ability is really starting to come around, and I almost forgot the crappy Trouble with the Curve movie she was in. She plays Christian's mistress and business partner who also becomes kind of the girlfriend of Bradley after she gets pinched illegally taking money as part of a fraud scheme.

Jennifer Lawrence is Christian's wife who manipulates and complains most of the time. She does a masterful job. Best Supporting Actress? Yes, she probably was. In fact, the only reason I might have thought less of Amy Adams is because Jennifer did such a good job. I thought she was good in Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but it really seems like she's been holding back. She did really, really well here.

Honorable mention goes to Louis C.K.. I would never, ever have thought of him in a dramatic role, but he did a great job as Bradley's boss who may or may not have gotten the crap beat out of him at one point.

One thing I didn't like about the movie was the way it jumps around the timeline. It wasn't necessary, and it made everything harder to follow for no good reason.

Acting was excellent
Directing was good
Cinematography was good
Story was very good
Dialog was very good



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