American Hustle (2013)

american-hustle-theatrical-339x500_6457There was some loud arguing in our proverbial household last night. J thought this was a drab and M tried to exonerate it by offering a different viewpoint. Suffice it to say, M was having a hard time. Both of us agreed that ‘Rule of Expectations” played a vital part in what we thought of this movie. If it was just another Tuesday with some kind of moving picture on the big screen we would’ve just thought of it as ‘blah’ (I realize that ‘blah’ doesn’t quite qualify as an intelligent, or intelligible for that matter, statement but bear with me for a moment). But someone, somewhere (I’m looking at J with murderous look), overhyped the thing by mentioning ten Oscar nominations which, as it often happens with overhyped things, eventually led to disappointment. As you might have guessed by now, J was hit the hardest.

Ok. J hated it citing hackneyed script, unnecessarily slow pace and caricatures instead of characters. M quite agreed with this. Both of them liked performances of certain actors, especially the one by Jennifer Lawrence (though we were quite happy that Christian Bale, despite raging paranoia – which is a healthy habit in his line of work – wasn’t yet again cast in the role of a psychopath. Yes, Batman is a psycho. One must concur that his physical transformations are becoming quite tedious. That should have stopped with Machinist), though she had a fairly easy role to play – all drama and histrionics without any subtlety or substance underneath. Both hated Bradley Cooper though we couldn’t quite say whose fault is it anyway – whether the scriptwriters or Cooper’s himself.    bscap0000 Somewhere along the lines another debate materialized from a thin air. We couldn’t quite understand why we are more disappointed by a movie that received ten Oscar nominations than by a random movie out there. Neither of us is impressed by the award itself, both of us think that only relevant Oscar award is the one that awards technical aspects of the movie while the big guns (screenplay, direction, best actor/actress) are nothing more than PR-campaign or industry powerplay. If it ever meant anything, for quite some time Oscar is neither guarantee of quality, neither guarantee of greatness. While it may be so, M argued that from a phenomenological point of view Oscar nominated movies provide excellent insight into the inner workings and schism of American mainstream ideology. Following that line of thought, M tried to salvage American Hustle by stating that David O. Russell’s movie goes against mainstream, Disneyesque, narrative of ordered society in which every individual has a chance for happiness if he is “good” and if he plays by rules. In American Hustle everything is a lie. Every interaction is an all out struggle for power and anything outside that picture is what the title says – American hustle. There’s only grey morality and an entire society is built upon the work of shady characters which tend to avoid rules on a large or a small scale, depending on the spur of the moment.

J said “bollocks!” and after some thought M had to agree.     bscap0001J said that while it might be true it certainly isn’t a novelty of any kind. She could mention, right from the top of her head, at least 15 movies which told the same tale but were much more skillful in execution. For a director that supposedly likes to make movies about characters, American Hustle is strangely void of them. Every single one is exaggerated caricature and actors didn’t have any choice but to act in the exact same manner which led to comical disbelief which is a big no-no in drama that wants to be taken seriously.

There was a feel, shared by both parties, that Russell wanted to produce grand-scale-modern-day-urban-epic. What he actually produced is something more along the line of burlesque. Someone might even call this a parody, though whether it’s a parody of the genre itself or a parody of something entirely vague isn’t quite clear. In any case, it’s an unremarkable movie that handles its screen time quite poorly. Sadly, Russell is receiving much more hype than he deserves, so its kinda inevitable that we’ll have to bear through his work once again. We’re not amused.








Directed by

David O. Russell

Produced by

Written by


Music by

Danny Elfman


Linus Sandgren

Editing by


Try before You Buy


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