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‘American Hustle’ is Flashy, Funky and Full of Unforgettable Performances: A Recap of the Reviews So Far

'American Hustle' is Flashy, Funky and Full of Unforgettable Performances: A Recap of the Reviews So Far

With David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” a mere week away from being released, reviews of the “Goodfellas”-esque crime and corruption drama have been steadily pouring in.

While the film’s structure and narrative have generally earned good though not necessarily great reviews, the cast including Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence, have almost universally attracted praise and Oscar talk with the spotlight edging slightly closer to Bale and Lawrence.

“American Hustle” will be released theatrically December 13. Here’s a recap of the reviews so far:

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:
Russell turns the pursuit of the American dream into the ultimate escapism. Despite the flashy period details, “American Hustle” maintains an appeal that’s resolutely modern.

Justin Chang, Variety:
You’ve seen smoother, more elegant con movies than “American Hustle,” but probably none quite so big-hearted or so rudely, insistently entertaining. As directed by that master of modern farce, David O. Russell, this sprawling fictionalized account of the notorious Abscam case is less a dramatic FBI procedural than a human comedy writ large, ringing a series of screwball variations on themes of duplicity and paranoia against a dazzling ’70s backdrop.

Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist:
“American Hustle” is only almost a great film, because Russell and his ensemble fail to make audiences care about the end result precisely as much as they obviously did about creating it.

John Anderson, Thompson on Hollywood:
While the intricacies of the plot are fascinating, other factors steal the show: Russell’s direction — which suggests Preston Sturges mating with Sidney Lumet — Linus Sandgren’s period-grainy, gritty, almost nicotine-stained cinematography. And the acting: Cooper’s late-’70s-era De Niro impersonation (De Niro himself shows up later) is just one of the many, many refs to American cinema — in bygone, good-riddance-to-it fashion — that informs a movie in which the corruption seems innocent.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:
“An infectious blast of funky jazz played by a terrific cast and a director at the top of their respective games.”

Alfonso Duralde, The Wrap:
“Has the kind of throbbing pulse, wicked snap and sheer moviemaking bravado that makes it one of a very few films that can be mentioned in the same breath as Goodfellas.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
“It is an intriguing confection of a movie, announcing its influences candidly, but exerting its originality too. The performances are far from subtle, yet they have an eye-popping, beads-of-sweat commitment: Lawrence, Cooper and Adams are all great, and Christian Bale comes up with a new glowering impersonation of middle-aged disillusionment and vulnerability.”

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily:
“American Hustle is a movie about the guises we wear to construct new, better versions of ourselves, so it’s fitting that director David O. Russell’s conman comedy-drama is itself an elaborate dress-up, savouring its retro-1970s costumes and hairdos while also gleefully riffing on the freewheeling energy of Martin Scorsese’s mobster films. Regretfully, there’s a certain amount of easy mocking of period detail that the audience must endure, but on the whole American Hustle manages to be several things at once: a briskly entertaining caper, a thoughtful examination of the American tendency toward reinvention (and self-delusion), and a tricky love story between two odd ducks played beautifully by Christian Bale and Amy Adams.”

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