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American Hustle (2013) Movie Review

January 4, 2014
“American Hustle” captures the style and flair of the 70’s beautifully. Each of the characters has a unique personality and there is plenty of comedy in the dialog. It isn’t easy to describe but instantly pulls in the audience. The trailers do a fantastic job previewing the characters and the feel of the film.The film has an enchanting aura that will capture most people and stick with you for quite some time. Though it opens with a statement that some of this actually happened, I expect the connection to real life is much attenuated.

Director David O Russel splashed into the awareness of modern audiences with the 2012 film “Silver Lining’s Playbook.” For “American Hustle” he manages to bring back a classic style of cinema that has all but disappeared from theaters. Though Danny Elfman wrote a few pieces for the film, I was hard pressed to identify any of it. The songs in the film take center stage and help drive home the 70s setting with plenty of jazzy tunes. I noticed a distinct lack of bass in the sound mix, refreshingly so. It is nice to remember a time before all music needed to be mastered so that the bass shook the room.
What makes American Hustle so refreshing is that it surprises audiences with many unexpected things. Little actions the characters take seem like what real people might do in that situation but yet are unlike what you typically see in a film. This also leads to quite a bit of comedy. I probably laughed more in “American Hustle” than I have for most comedies. Unlike a comedy, the rest of the film is engaging in other ways.
“American Hustle” has a cast that showcases the new generation of stars. Though some bigger actors show up at times, the film focuses on characters played by Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. If there was any doubt of the talent of any of them the performances given here dispel that. Louis C.K. has a small role in the film as well and fits the part perfectly. Out of all of them, I found Christian Bale the most enchanting, in part because of how over-the-top his character was.
“American Hustle” is a delightful film that will enchant you from start to finish. I expect it would stand up nicely to repeated views. If you need a reminder of what made films so alluring in the past, “American Hustle” will renew your spark.

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