Oscar nominated American Hustle is the kind of film you’ve seen before: the conman (and woman) film; the business film; the hustle film; A Fish Called Wanda, Catch Me If You Can, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. So what makes this Oscar-worthy? The only things I can vouch for are its execution and Jennifer Lawrence – both brilliant.
At little over 2 hours, it does a little (a f*cking lot) better than a Judd Apatow film in keeping your attention over the duration. It doesn’t bore you with long, over-bearing shots. Your eyes are constantly moving and your attention always forced to shift. It is fast, rapid and never telling you too much, leaving enigmas surrounding every single character from Christian Bale’s Irving to the uncredited Robert DeNiro’s Vincent Tellegio – giving the impression that (guess what?!) you don’t know which of these con people you can trust – if any.
This film highlights the importance of trust in both business and human relationships and is initially brought to your attention particularly surrounding the film’s protagonist Christian Bale. I say ‘protagonist’, you’re not quite sure who is good and what you want. A masterclass of diversion and pace from the director creates an uneasy facade which I feel makes the film great. One moment you will have a favourable view of each character, be it a funny quip from Jennifer Lawrence and the next, you’ll see how inept she is at being a mother and wife – or you’ll connect with Bradley Cooper and have a laugh about his 70s dancing, the next you see him wishing to cheat on his wife. (I’ve refrained from being too spoilerific here.) You’re left in a state of unease throughout the film and this what I love.Within the complicated storyline of entrapment, loan scams and fraud, what drives the film are the relationships I feel. The tensions within pretty much every relationship is amplified by the survival tactics of just about everyone. In that I mean, everyone is on their own, even if they feel they’re not – they are.
If you love a good conman caper then this is it. If you love to appreciate a perfect tempo that befits a film’s subject and keeps you guessing then this is it. If you want to see Jennifer Lawrence be the standout performer in yet another film then this is it.I’m a bit coy on its Oscar-worthiness though. It’s enjoyable but it’s not innovative. It has some great performances, mainly by the actresses, but it’s not jaw-dropping. It communicates well the extent to which we are willing to go to chase a “better life” – but it’s nothing new. That aside, though, it is fun and who needs awards anyway?Rating: Jennifer Lawrence’s performance will earn her more awards so you may want to check that out before the awards season gets in full flow.