News

REVIEW: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper ‘Hustle’ scenes

REVIEW: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper ‘Hustle’ scenes

Photo: YouTube

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

4 hours ago in Local

Downtown Street Parking Ban for Obama Event

no parking

The City of Springfield has put out a list of places you can't park in the downtown area Wednesday due to President Obama's visit.

10 hours ago in Local

Senate Democrat Hopefuls Joust

capitol

First joint appearance for Duckworth, Harris, Zopp

22 hours ago in Local

Public Not Allowed at Obama Speech — But Will Be Broadcast Live on WTAX

President Barack Obama signs the Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 bill into law in the Oval Office of the White House. With President Obama are from left: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL); Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY); Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA); Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO); Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
Washington

Where: DC, United States
When: 12 May 2009
Credit: WENN

A spokesman for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says the public will not be able to attend when President Barack Obama delivers a speech in the Illinois House chamber on Wednesday.

22 hours ago in Local

State Museum Prepared to Re-Open — If Lawmakers Allow It

2-8-16 Illinois State Museum

The Illinois State Museum can open once again. But State Department of Natural Resources head Wayne Rosenthal says not yet.

23 hours ago in Local

Davis Proposes FAA, Air Traffic Control Operations Changes

2-8-16 Davis

Davis and and a Democratic Congressman are proposing that that Air Traffic Control operations be run by a not-for-profit entity.