American Hustle

DAVID O. RUSSELL

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  USA, 2013.  , , .  Screenplay by , David O. Russell.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , , .  Academy Awards 2013.  Golden Globe Awards 2013.  New York Film Critics 2013.  

The Abscam affair of the late seventies is reenacted in this middling comedy, one with a few laughs and some enjoyable caricatures to punctuate a slow pace and uneven direction.   is a career con artist who stows young wife  at home while parading around town with his partner in crime .  When the two get busted by federal officer , they agree to help him bring down crooked politicians in return for leniency, and so agree to wear wires and drag congressmen and a New Jersey mayor () with grand ambitions into a complicated scheme involving payoffs for economy-boosting casinos.  It’s admirable that director David O. Russell avoids the kind of slick moves that glossier films like Oceans Eleven trade off on, and it presents the seventies with a minimal level of Boogie Nights kitsch, but there also isn’t much to make up for the lack of narrative pizzazz.  The performances are all terrific, but a group of actors prepared to bust out are bridled in by a story that always feels like it’s still at the beginning of a great caper.  Cooper is the standout of the bunch, hilariously energetic and unself-consciously foolish as the straight arrow trying to go crooked in an effort to be a cool dude, while  shows them all how it’s down in a terrific unbilled cameo.

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