American Hustle had hype.  It had good reviews.  And from the opening scene, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.  How did I know?  Christian Bale with a comb-over, dirty gold chains and a hell of a gut.  Damn,  Batman has let himself go.

American Hustle begins with a flashback to how con artists, Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) met, fell in love and eventually, created an entire business off hustling, conning and scheming those who are desperate, down and out.  Life is sweet, until they’re caught by FBI agent, Richie (Bradley Cooper).  In order to stay out of prison, Richie offers them a deal; they join him in ensnaring ‘bigger fish’ and politicians, and they’ll get a reduced sentence.

Using a friend and the false identity of a wealthy Sheik interested in investing in the American market, Richie, Sydney and Irving target much-loved businessman Carmine (Jeremy Renner), who is hoping to revitalize Atlantic City.  Originally things go to plan, until Irving’s unhinged wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and Mafia heavyweight Vincent (Robert de Niro) join the fray.  Add the complexities of the real/fake seduction between Richie and Sydney, a double, triple, ugh I give up, con and you have the storyline of American Hustle.  Fabulous hair and all.

Overall, the storyline of American Hustle was entertaining.  It had the a strong major plot line, along with numerous twists that, while not completely unexpected, were frequent and left of field, keeping the storyline relatively fast flowing.  Perhaps more importantly, it had a dose of humour that made it quite apparent to the audience that it was poking fun at itself.  While many ‘mobster’ films can quickly become a bit ridiculous thanks to over-acting and serious lines, American Hustle had enough nuances and quirks to make the audience laugh.  Whether that was the constant references to the character’s ridiculous hair-dos (it was the 70s after all), the ironic one-liners and, particularly anything that Jennifer Lawrence’s character did, American Hustle managed to stay light and fun; no small feat for a crime movie that runs for more than two hours.

However, in saying that, I do think that the film could have been somewhat condescended.  While the subplots, for the most part, added another layer to the central plot line, at times I grew bored and borderline confused as to why such and such was being introduced, or what was the point of this and that.  While there were certain angles that were introduced to give the character profiles more depth, overall I thought that they’d already been well established by excellent acting across the board.

Consistently, the acting in American Hustle was fantastic.  Christian Bale was amazing simply for his sheer ability to consistently transform so dramatically for each of this characters, and not just physically.  Bradley Cooper, whom I’m not usually a fan of, created a perfectly nuanced character that was a wonderful mix of predatory arrogance and sheer desperation.

Lastly, Jennifer Lawrence was beyond impressive.  Let’s be honest, Jennifer Lawrence can’t do anything wrong at the moment and her performance in American Hustle was no exception.  Her character, Rosalyn, is completely unbalanced and borderline psychotic, yet thanks to Lawrence’s performance, completely believable.  Many other actresses could easily have reduced Rosalyn’s character to a pathetic, yet manipulative, housewife, yet Lawrence was able to character a woman that was controlling, stupid, but most importantly, very powerful.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable film that takes advantage of some great acting talent to produce a storyline that is as absurd as it is absorbing.  If you have a spare afternoon then I’d definitely recommend checking out American Hustle.

Have you seen American Hustle?  What did you think of the actor’s performances?  Let me know!