News

REVIEW: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper ‘Hustle’ scenes

REVIEW: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper ‘Hustle’ scenes

Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale show off their acting skills, and 1970s hairdos in "American Hustle." Photo: WENN

Genre:  Crime, Drama | Run Time: 138 min | Rated: R
Director: David O. Russell | Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K.

By: George Wolf

David O. Russell can direct the heck out of a movie, can’t he? He startled his way into our consciousness in ’94 with the unbelievable Spanking the Monkey, followed by a smattering of well-crafted, unmarketable, endlessly watchable films. Then he took a few years off and came back wearing his shootin’ boots.

The Fighter in 2010, followed by Silver Linings Playbook in 2012 racked up a grand total of 3 Oscars and another 13 nominations. That’s the way to shake off the artistic rust.
For his latest, American Hustle, Russell wisely cherry-picks castmates (a couple of Oscar winners among them) from his last two efforts to populate the world of 1978 and Abscam – the FBI sting that took down some corrupt public officials. And, as the screen announces just before the first disco-tastic image, “Some of this actually happened.”

One desperately ambitious FBI agent (an unhinged and glorious Bradley Cooper) pinches two con artists (Christian Bale, Amy Adams – both outstanding) and insists they help him finger other white collar criminals. But his dizzying hunger for significance pushes their con to untenable extremes, and soon these low-flying hustlers are eyeball deep in politicians, Feds and the mafia.

Russell orchestrates con upon con, braiding loyalty with opportunism with showmanship, and providing his dream cast with everything they need to erupt onscreen.

Joining the stellar performers mentioned are the always reliable Jeremy Renner and the reliably brilliant Jennifer Lawrence. As an unpredictable spitfire, Lawrence is right at home. She excels, and Russell teases the absolute most out of her every moment of screen time (it makes no sense now but trust me, you’ll never call a microwave oven by its correct name again).

Louis CK – in his second strong cinematic turn this year (alongside Blue Jasmine) – is a great onscreen curmudgeon, and he offers such a perfect foil for Cooper’s combustible lead that their scenes together are a scream.

Honestly, with the electricity on screen whenever Lawrence or Cooper appear, it’s almost possible to overlook Bale and Adams, but what a mistake that would be! Bale crawls into this character, as he does every character, and convinces us of the sleazy but good-hearted schlub inside this grifter.

Likewise, Adams – a performer so expressive with just a look – keeps you on your toes. It’s her flawless work as Edith (or is that Sydney?) that keeps all the cons spinning at once, and you never know exactly where her loyalties lie. In fact, you’re pretty sure she isn’t certain. Unless she’s just playing you.

While Russell’s fondness for Goodfellas colors the entire running time, there’s no question that his creation finds its own way and becomes something unique and fantastic. The writing is exceptional, the performances volcanic, and the result is the sharpest and most explosively funny movie in Oscar contention.

Verdict-4-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Local

City Needs Extra $3.5 Million to Cover Healthcare Costs

Health

It appears health care costs for city of Springfield employees went over budget by more than three million dollars this fiscal year.

in Local

Lincoln Woman Gets Prison Time: Embezzles Two Million Dollars

money

A Lincoln woman will serve nearly 4 years in prison for embezzling two million dollars over 17 years.

in Local

Rauner Pushes “Right to Work” Zones

Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate businessman Bruce Rauner participates in a Republican gubernatorial candidate debate Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. The four Republican gubernatorial candidates said that they’ll be willing to work with unions if elected but differed on how to approach the relationship during a downstate debate that largely focused on pension reform, taxes and just briefly on personal issues that have dogged some of the candidates.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says one of his priorities for his first year in office will be creating so-called “right to work zones.”

in Local

Lawmaker Introduces Measure to Cut GA, Officer Salaries

money

An Illinois lawmaker has introduced legislation that would cut the pay of elected officeholders by 10 percent.

in Local

Portions of MacArthur Blvd. Closed due to Sewer Cave In

road construction

Portions of southbound MacArthur Blvd. are down to one lane due to a sewer cave in.