Acting in ‘American Hustle’ surpasses mediocre script

Despite a script that doesn’t stand out, “American Hustle” is a must-see film thanks to the best ensemble of actors this year, all of whom make their performances realistic and entertaining to watch.

The film is a dark comedy crime drama in the late ‘70s, focusing on con-artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) as they’re forced by FBI agent Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper) to assist him in bringing down corrupt political figures like Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).

The plot centers on a couple of con-artists forced to help the feds to save their own skin, and it’s—to no one’s surprise—revealed the good guys aren’t all pure and the bad guys have heart. Despite a few smart lines and twists, the concept has been done before.

Thankfully, David O. Russell’s phenomenal directing cancels out his tolerable writing. His creative decisions to start the film in the middle of the timeline and include minor details in his characters and scenes truly make the film more than just an average crime drama with cheap one-liners and pointless violence.

No matter how good the directing is, the film runs about 15 minutes too long, yet with a soundtrack that captures a feeling of confidence, the music helps move the film along faster. The music in the film is primarily taken from classic artists like Duke Ellington, Paul McCartney and Elton John to set the scene of the late ‘70s, but also is comprised of some original and remixed pieces that fit in with the tone of the film.

Lawrence is by far one of the most talented actresses of this age, giving a performance that is entertaining to watch. “The Hunger Games” star adds comedy to the film, but Lawrence’s main feat is her ability to pull off realistic emotion through her facial expressions alone, yet again proving to the audience that she is a top runner for this year’s Oscars.

Besides Lawrence, Renner delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. Renner’s performance as an optimistic family man, who is able to deliver persuasive speeches on creating jobs for a better future, not only charms those on screen, but also the audience by putting all his heart into his words, especially when it comes to the matter of friends and family, which causes anyone to look past his corruption in hopes he’ll come out clean.

The optimism in Renner’s character is also seen in Cooper’s character Dimaso, a rookie FBI agent with a god complex. Cooper reminds us he isn’t just some pretty boy by delivering an energetic performance that deserves recognition.

The star of the film, though, is Bale. While Bale’s physical appearance, complete with a horrendous comb-over and hairy extended gut, is comedic, he brings a sympathetic side to the con-man by acting up Irving Rosenfeld’s love for those closest to him. It’s this performance that reinforces the idea Bale is more than just some comic book hero.

While the acting in this film is some of the best I’ve seen, if the characters were played by any other actors, the film would fall flat. There are clever parts, but overall the script doesn’t stand out among the countless numbers of crime dramas.

At the end of the film, viewers can look past the average writing, for the cast of actors, who all deserve some sort of recognition for their performances, not only were great to watch but also able to convey the theme of greed and trust flawlessly.

-Caitlin Chappell