When Christian Bale’s not gaining weight he’s losing weight, when he’s not losing weight he’s gaining muscle, when he’s not gaining muscle he’s losing it. This time he’s most certainly gained weight, fully uglied up with a ghastly comb over on top. Along with Bradley Cooper’s perm, American Hustle is a typical case of mutton dressed as lamb, or should that be mutton dressed as mutton, to dress as lamb?
Regardless, it’s a case of relying overwhelmingly on style and hair and the fact that it is a period piece to paper over the cracks of what is otherwise a very mediocre script and not very interesting film.
Christian Bale and Amy Adams play con artists made to perform a con by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) on corrupt politicians in order for them to get off the hook for past misdemeanours. David O. Russell’s previous film Silver Linings Playbook had real problems with its ending but it seemed to be about something and was full of memorable lines, superb performances and points of discussion. American Hustle really is all on the surface and there’s absolutely nothing memorable. For a movie about an elaborate scam to work it really needs to have some sense of magic and sharpness but this is as flabby as Bale’s belly. It has the odd one-line zinger which seems more like a writer trying to imitate his own style. Jennifer Lawrence offers the film’s only illumination playing Bale’s unpredictable wife, but even she isn’t given quite enough to really craft a character, besides having great hair. For a film about a con, it all seems rather appropriate that award season should be dangling so many shiny trophies over this picture.
Review by David Rank
MFR Rating: 2/5
American Hustle is out now in the UK and US. Running time 137 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).