movie film review | chris tookey

American Hustle

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  American Hustle Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
8.23 /10
Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper , Amy Adams
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Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer

Released: 2013
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 138

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It’s a juggling act that Russell can’t sustain and doesn’t: The last 20 minutes feel aimless, and the movie doesn’t end so much as coast to a halt. And still you walk away giddy and full. American Hustle takes your money and makes you glad you were fleeced.
(Ty Burr, Boston Globe)
The film suffers from late-stage Scorsese-itis – wacky, low-slung, high-octane melodrama with lots of yelling and overacting.
(Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor)
Formally ostentatious and unrepentantly messy, the film manages to implicitly convey the overdriven, coked-up confusion that many '70s period pieces make painfully overt.
(Jesse Cataldo Slant Magazine)
While American Hustle succeeds when it comes to casting and characters, it’s dragged down by a murky and poorly-paced narrative.
(Kate Erbland,
It’s both unfailingly exciting and overly familiar, a restless but risk-averse film that’s a little too content to borrow from what’s worked before.
(Keith Phipps, The Dissolve)
American Hustle is a movie that was built backward, or inside out: It puts actors’ needs before the audience’s. There’s no heart under those polyester lapels, and what all that Aqua Net is pasting together is a few sparse strands of wispy story.
(Kyle Smith, New York Post)
Russell is so enamored with the period pizzazz - the outrageous hairstyles and outfits, the strobe-lit clubs, the yellows and browns - that the movie flatlines... Russell has made a career out of working in this amped-up mode. But past efforts such as Silver Linings Playbook incorporated that style to serve stories that touched on resonant emotions and experiences. There's preciously little of that here.
(Robert Levin, amNewYork)
Betrays a lack of cinematic judgment that's frankly astonishing, from a group of very accomplished filmmakers and performers. It's Scorsese Karaoke.
(Stephen Silver, EntertainmentTell)
It's a little bit Boogie Nights, a little bit Argo, a little bit GoodFellas. It's a breath mint, it's a chewing gum, it's a laxative, it's a hockey puck.
(Kyle Smith, New York Post)
It's rarely as playful or funny or loose or hip as it hopes.
(Matt Pais, RedEye)
Though it boasts an impressive cast and a promising storyline, American Hustle ultimately establishes itself as yet another disappointment from David O. Russell - with the film, saddled with a 138 minute (!) running time, often coming off as an interminable and downright boring piece of work that one endures more than one experiences... American Hustle's inability to capture the viewer's attention, even fleetingly, ultimately cements its place as a disastrous and thoroughly misguided endeavor, with Russell's palpable incomptence insidiously affecting every aspect of the proceedings and ensuring that, with few exceptions, the movie is hopelessly devoid of compelling sequences.
(David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews)
Hustle ultimately doesn’t crackle with the energy needed to sell the con. The first hour passes by because it’s easy to stay busy criticizing the period-glam of Russell’s garish cast. The “razzle dazzle,” as Lawrence’s suburban housewife describes it. The movie opens with an extended shot of a bloated Bale – looking like iconic producer Robert Evans – doctoring the disastrous hairpiece that rests atop his head like rescued road kill. From there, we’re practically dared by Russell to look away from Renner’s Frankie Vali coif, Adams’ persistent side boob, Cooper’s greasy perm and Lawrence’s nail polish (which smells like an intoxicating blend of flowers and garbage). But it’s all window dressing. The clothes, the hair, the accents, the “science oven” … they’re all distractions that are supposed to keep us entertained because, without them, Russell’s holding an empty box of half-truths, silly caricatures, and disappointing conclusions. The hustle ends up being on those who came to American Hustle seeking substance behind the flash.
(Sean O'Connell,
The script by Eric Singer and David O. Russell is rife with banalities and ludicrous situations, mostly involving the mafia... Movie history is chock full of films littered with unlikable characters, but rarely do I feel a need to shower after watching one such film. Not so here - American Hustle is as slimy as it gets, and at two hours and 18 minutes, that's way too much for me.
(Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan)
Despite the often unique script, I don't see this movie resonating with the average moviegoer. People could certainly relate to Silver Linings Playbook and Russell's earlier film, The Fighter, but American Hustle may be a bit too verbose. I also thought Renner was miscast, looking too young for a mayor, although he did what he could with his part. Simply put, American Hustle is marginally entertaining, and ultimately not a satisfying movie-going experience.
(David Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan)
[Russell] bullshits his way through the narrative, basically, giving his stellar cast plenty of room to improvise at length but in the end coming off as an indulgent storyteller unable to self-edit.
(Matt Kelemen,
A story that spins out of control and lacks a comedic focus.
(Lori Hoffman, Atlantic City Weekly)
The actors act up a storm and the tacky period detail, from hideous sofas to men in curlers, fills the screen, but in the end it all feels too staged, too played, too self-aware to fully work.
(James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk)
Casting Christian Bale as a Bronx Jew makes as much sense as casting Woody Allen as a Baptist minister from Alabama, not that casting Woody Allen in Bale's role would have saved this mess of a film.
(Louis Proyect,
Loose, wandering, and often monotonous.
(David Thomson, New Republic)
American Hustle, following con-artists forced to assist the FBI, has tremendous fizz (the disco-era fashions take centre stage) but is too vaudeville and tends to meander ruinously about... The standout performance, as ever, is Lawrence, playing a sexy, lunatic young wife. This kid is the most natural actress working today. Very girlish and very un-Hollywood, she is irresistible and fun with an unbelievable star quality, like Carole Lombard.
(Antonia Quirke, Financial Times)

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