Continuing to play catch-up, here's my review of Oscar hopeful: American Hustle.
Based off the ABSCAM operation and set during the late 1970's and early 1980's, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a low level con artist working with his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). After both are caught in a scam by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso, (Bradley Cooper) Irving and Sydney reluctantly work for Richie to bring down various politicians including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).
Due to the complexity of the undercover operation, not all parts go smoothly. Irving's unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) complicates matters as a potential love triangle forms between Irving, Richie and Sydney. As the operation progresses, Irving and Carmine start to become friends and Richie wants the operation to grow in size in an effort to take down more and more corrupt politicians. The size of the operation begins spiral out of control and all parties involved begin to struggle to keep everything in order.
The plot is not as complex as it sounds, but it is more of a foundation for what truly makes this film entertaining: the performances. Even as I felt this was my favorite film of the year, I understand that American Hustle is not a great film. The plot falls by the wayside in favor of letting you enjoy the performances and the fun that the actors and director, David O. Russell are having.
The fun that the actors and crew are having does not take you out of the film. Instead the film brings you in and provides you with one of the best comedies of the year. Everything from the bad wigs, to bad accents and the way the characters handle the complicated scam that is presented in this film as a fun, but not overly-complicated 2 hour film. Even the title card that starts the movie, really sets the tone for how serious the film handles the ABSCAM plot that the film is based on. American Hustle tries really hard to entertain you, and based off what David O. Russell and the cast offer, I feel the film succeeds on that level.
The one weak link in the film for me, personally was Jeremy Renner. Everyone else in the film felt like they were on the same page, but with his character everything felt off and out of place and ultimately felt that Jeremy Renner was miscast as Mayor Polito. As the film progresses towards its conclusion, there is a scene where Irving and Carmine confront each other in Carmine's house. Carmine asks Irving if he is lying to him; at which time I felt bad for the character itself, but not by the performance delivered by Jeremy Renner.
I know there's been a lot of hate and backlash towards the film lately, but as just an enjoyable piece of cinema with overall good performances, it's hard to not rank American Hustle near the top of the best films list of 2013.