Last night, American Hustle won the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay and that got me thinking: “How the hell did American Hustle win the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay?” I’ve also been contemplating “Why is American Hustle nominated for Best Director at so many awards shows, including yesterday’s BAFTAs and the upcoming Oscars?” They’re questions I can’t really fathom an answer to because, as far as I can recall, it wasn’t a very good film, and the main aspects that let it down were the direction and the script.I have almost nothing but praise to laud upon the film in terms of acting, especially for Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, who were the standouts for me. Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper were both decent enough in their roles, as in fact was the rest of the cast, although I found Jennifer Lawrence to be annoying on such a level that I really do not want her to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar she seems to be hurtling towards at an alarming velocity. As much as she may be lovely as a person (I’ve only seen the one brief interview with her, so I can’t discuss this much, but general consensus seems to be she’s adorable), her performance here is far from awards-worthy, and I’d much rather see it go to Lupita Nyong’O (the only other candidate I’ve seen thus far) or Sally Hawkins, who though I’ve not seen Blue Jasmine I do know is a damn fine actress, regardless of how much I hated Happy-Go-Lucky. Elsewhere the production design, costumes, styling et al were wonderful – enough for me to not argue with the Best Picture nod, as long as it doesn’t win – but I’m genuinely confused by how such a boring and unoriginal script was even considered for awards. I’m aware that this ‘review’ is turning into a slander against the Oscar nominations, but that’s my main concerns for this film. The tone is all over the place, resulting in a scattershot mess that’s too depressing to be enjoyable and too serious to be fun. Some scenes – like Jennifer Lawrence’s marigold-clad lip sync – seem to have been lifted from David Lynch or Terry Gilliam, and have no place whatsoever in this film.The film itself sees a couple of con artists – played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams – being rumbled by Bradley Cooper’s detective. He then uses them to lure in a bigger mark, played by Jeremy Renner. Bale’s manic wife, Jennifer Lawrence, screws everything up by becoming far more involved than was intended. On the surface this sounds fun and zany – I do love a good heist or grifter movie – but the problem here is there’s no sense of an ingenious scheme, no unexpected rug-pulls, nothing of any actual interest within the film. Yes, it’s more about the characters and their motivations than the hustle itself, but the characters we’re given are all fairly thin (metaphorically, at least) and whilst mostly well acted, they aren’t terribly likeable, relatable or, as with the plot, interesting. I found myself not caring whether anyone succeeded with what they were doing, and therefore just wanted the film to end so I could get on with my life.That being said, there are elements to enjoy here. Louis C. K., in my first dalliance with his career, was pretty damn hilarious as Cooper’s sad sack superior, and Amy Adams shone as the ever-switching-allegiance Sydney Prosser. Jeremy Renner too is getting far less praise than I expected as the kindest corrupt politican you’ll ever see on film. There’s some decent cameos too, which I wont spoil here, and the opening scene of Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld meticulously assembling an intricate combover was possibly the highlight of the movie.Overall it isn’t necessarily a terrible film – for the most part I’d consider it at least good – it is simply far from worthy of all the praise it has received. Bear in mind I may unintentionally have something against David O. Russell as a director, as I recall not loving Silver Linings Playbook half as much as everyone else seemed to either, and didn’t think Lawrence deserved the Best Actress Oscar there either – that should have gone to Naomi Watts, who was in my opinion astounding in The Impossible. Lawrence would have come third of the three nominated performances I’ve seen thus far, after Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. As I’ve already said, I’ve nothing against her as an actress, she has simply not proven herself awards worthy yet. I’m fully aware that Silver Linings Playbook probably deserves another viewing, but I don’t think the same can be said for American Hustle. If I did, it would probably be purely for the hairstyles.
Choose Life 6/10