2013 Movie Reviews: American Hustle

imagesAt one point in American Hustle, Christian Bale’s character says, “The art of survival is a story that never ends.” Well, that’s the movie right there. The movie is about the art of survival, and… This. Movie. Never. Ends.

The story, i guess, is about Christian Bale, and he’s a con artist. And he’s in love with Amy Adams, who also becomes a con artist. But he’s already married to Jennifer Lawrence, who doesn’t want a divorce. But then Bradley Cooper plays an agent who doesn’t want to be con artist but becomes one.. I think. And Jeremy Renner is a politician who doesn’t know about the big con but then he finds out and he’s okay with it.. I think.

Now, I was casually looking up IMDB when I came across this fact. According to Christian Bale much of the movie was improvised. So, during the shooting of the film he noted to David O. Russell, “You realize that this is going to change the plot greatly down track.” To which the director replied, “Christian, I hate plots. I am all about characters, that’s it.”

Now, I didn’t just make that up. Check IMDB if you don’t believe me. When I saw the fact, I asked myself how come the script to Silver Linings Playbook was so much better than this? And then it dawned on me. Silver Linings Playbook was based on a book. David O. Russell actually had something to work with. This movie on the other hand, while loosely based on a true story, (I like how it opens up with the statement “Some of this actually happened.” No BS.) is mostly original. It’s all about characters. It’s like Who’s Line Is It Anyway?.

But with that said, if you’re going to make your movie entirely character based, the least you can do is get some good actors. And to the movies credit, most of the actors do a pretty good job. However, none of the performances really struck me as being Oscar worthy. That is, with one exception. By FAR, the best thing about this movie is Jennifer Lawrence. Every scene she’s in is like a breath of fresh air, and had she not just won the Oscar, I’d say she could easily win this year. Oh, and Amy Adams was good, but then again, she’s good in everything she’s in.

I am about to tell you one of the keen rules of storytelling. When you’re telling a story, you need to know when to stop. As the book Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter puts it “There have been times when my story ended and I didn’t know it. I just kept writing and writing until I got that strange squirmy feeling that something wasn’t right.” While movies like Marty end the story too quickly, this movie ends the story much too late. There was a moment in the movie when I was like, “And.. the end! Well, that wasn’t so bad.” And then I realized that there was still another half hour to go. And nothing interesting whatsoever happened during that last half hour.

This movie is way, way too long and boring. With all of the guild nominations it’s getting, it seems guaranteed that the movie will be nominated for Best Picture. That fact is sickening enough, but some people say that this movie could WIN. Let me tell you right now, if this movie wins the award, I would be quick to call it one of the worst Best Picture winners in history. It actually took all of my energy not to walk out on this film, and it’s a film that I NEVER plan on watching again.

**1/2

(I would have given it 2 if not for Jennifer Lawrence.)

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