I loved Silver Linings Playbook last year. I thought it was the best film of the year because it had the most emotion behind it, and the most honesty. David O. Russell’s direction was perfectly fit for the material because he handled the story with so much care so it didn’t turn into something it was not. Bradley Cooper became a respected actor with that film because he was so good as Pat, he let you know everything he was feeling. Jennifer Lawrence gave my favorite performance of 2012 because she was a live wire, her character was feeling every single emotion available and it all showed on her face.
With that, I had huge expectations for American Hustle, O. Russell united Lawrence and Cooper with Amy Adams and Christian Bale. Adams and Bale were in O. Russell’s 2010 hit, The Fighter. Bale also won an Oscar for that. I’m sure you can tell with all of this background that there was a lot of hype for it to live up to. In my humble opinion, it did.
The story is about Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), a con man, who, with his mistress Sydney Proser (Adams), teams up with the FBI in a sting operation led by Richie DeMasso( (Cooper) to target corrupt politicians. Their main guy that they want to get is Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner, a newbie to O. Russell), a beloved New Jersey mayor. The situation is complicated by Rosenfeld’s unpredictable wife, Rosalyn (Lawrence).
From this cast, you are probably guessing that the performances were outstanding. And you would be right. Bale is fantastic as Irving, gaining fifty pounds for the role and learning how to do Irving’s signature comb over. He shows off his range with this part and is very good. Adam’s performance is what every performance of a con artist should be: sexy, emotional, manipulative and dangerous. She puts so much raw emotion into it, and she is so good up until the end you don’t really know whose side she is on. Cooper is also stupendous as Richie, an agent out to prove something. He is crazy and predictable in the same scene. And that is not a dig on Cooper’s performance, it is a comment about the character. Richie thinks he is the best agent ever (that is where he is crazy) but in reality the con artists know exactly what he is thinking and what he is trying to do. Lawrence blew me away as Rosalyn. We all knew she could play crazy well, but she went up fifty thousand levels with this performance. Her Rosalyn is dangerous, she will manipulate you until she thinks you think she is helping you because she is convinced that she has. Rosalyn also is at the same time smarter than everyone thinks and just as stupid. Lawrence is perfect as her. And to those who say she was a cartoon, watch the scene where she and her boyfriend are having lunch. So much depth. I honestly think she should win Best Supporting Actress. I admit I haven’t seen Lupita Nyong’o, her biggest competition, in 12 Years a Slave. She would have to be pretty extraordinary to top Lawrence. Meanwhile, Renner is good as Carmine, but doesn’t leave a long impression.
O. Russell’s directing is huge, cinematic and unpredictable, just like it should be. His script, written with Eric Warren Singer is smart, funny and tragic in one scene. The costumes are AMAZING. So is the HAIR, art direction and makeup. The entire art department in my opinion should win Oscars. The music is sensational and really lets you get into the era. (It is set in the late 70’s. I thought everyone would know that, but better safe the sorry!)
All in all it is sensational. Some of the best performances of the year, the perfect pairing of director and script, a pretty great script and a terrific art and music department makes this film one of the best of the year.
With every movie review, I plan on ranking the performances of the main actors. Here it goes:
1. Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
2.Amy Adams as Sydney Proser
3. Bradley Cooper as Richie DeMasso
4. Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld
5. Jeremy Renner as Carmine Polito