I finally got around to seeing American Hustle. Here’s my short review: it was a fun, entertaining movie, with a little bit more layer than your average flick. It felt very much like Argo in that respect. If you want to analyze movies you can spend time discussing the characters and motivations; if you just want a fun story with some great actors, that’s easy enough here…it’s got a little bit of heft, without being the sort of weighty film that you can really sink your teeth into (and which can be off-putting to mainstream movie-goers).
For example, one discussion I had shortly after seeing the movie was about Amy Adams’ character, Sydney Prosser (alias: Lady Edith Greensley). Throughout the film her exact intentions for Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso are (intentionally) unclear, and there are a few ways that you can interpret them. Was she working “from the feet up” and allowing herself to fall for him to make her con more convincing, but she never reallyintended to like him? Or did she not like him at all and was simply acting the whole time? Or— and this is my personal theory —I think she was hedging her bets.
There are also a lot of great side roles that really make the film. I didn’t even realize until after that Mayor Carmine Polito is Jeremy “Hawkeye” Renner, and that the reason his wife looked so familiar to me is because I’ve seen her a million times in Law & Order. Louis C.K. makes a surprise appearance, and I’m spoilering that because I really didn’t know and it’s a really great recurring bit, but I don’t know if warning might soften the impact a bit— choose wisely.
American Hustle, with its lavish late-’70s visuals and all the above, makes for a good time at the movies for just about anyone. And at the end you get to feel a little sophisticated, even if you aren’t interested in picking the flick apart. What’s not to love? (Except maybe that Jennifer Lawrence, while amazing, isn’t quite as front-and-center as the marketing makes it seem; I actually thought the plot was going to be more that she was a fresh interloper rather than someone who’d always been there. But, y’know, she can’t have 99% of the screentime in EVERYthing, more’s the pity.)
It’s not be an amazing, life-changing film, and there are definitely more deserving options for Best Picture-level recognition. But it’s the kind of movie that proves that you can make a movie that’s got fairly mainstream appeal and isn’t completely braindead.