How ‘American Hustle’ Conned the Critics

Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle

REARVIEW: Critics love David O. Russell's latest. Not this critic. A second look for those who weren't taken by this sloppy comedy.

For months, the entertainment press has been writing about Martin Scorsese’s travails to bring his sprawling true-crime comedy “The Wolf of Wall Street” in by year’s end, so the film could compete in an already overcrowded Oscar derby. And while the public’s attention was thus misdirected, a far more unwieldy true-crime movie came together (or fell apart, as I see it) in relative quiet, suffering none of the bad press and escaping scot-free from the criticism that should have greeted its opening on Friday.

That movie, of course, is David O. Russell’s “American Hustle,” a collection of flamboyant 1970s caricatures run amok: so much hairspray and polyester, it makes your brain hurt — and worse, overwhelms the already overcomplicated Abscam retelling at the center of the film.

Now, if you saw and loved “American Hustle” this past weekend, I don’t mean to rain on your parade. But if you emerged flabbergasted by what you had seen, your mind thoroughly boggled by the critical response — which has been nearly unanimous in its praise of this sloppy sprawl of a movie — then rest assured, you are not alone.

“American Hustle” is a mess, and though some of its champions seem to love that most about it, the whole affair appears to have been cobbled together in haste, off-script and with little consideration for the fine art of narrative. Arriving so swiftly on the heels of the director’s similarly batty films “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle” inadvertently reveals Russell’s shtick, and once you spot the pattern, the jig is up.

In short, what sets Russell’s movies apart from the pack is a certain anarchic energy, a freewheeling sense that his characters could behave in spontaneous, possibly even irrational ways at any given moment. For those raised on the polite tradition of Hollywood storytelling, this relatively unruly sensibility has a tendency to delight. Frankly, it feels more like real life than the stuffy, rehearsed performances served up by other movies, in which most shots derive from the 10th or 17th or 43rd take of a scene. Russell’s characters, by contrast, are free to squawk and stammer and peacock as much as they please, providing that same illicit pleasure that has overtaken so much contemporary comedy, in which improvisation is king (for the moment, at least).

Russell’s approach works when the material in question is tight and focused, allowing the director to garnish a manageable story with as much comedic lunacy as the movie can bear. That’s why last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook” was such a delight: At the film’s core, it was a familiar, if somewhat simple-minded old-school romantic comedy, like something out of the 1940s, upon which Russell and his cast were free to go crazy.

With “Playbook,” you could hold the plot in the palm of your hand: A clinically bipolar guy (Bradley Cooper) and a hilariously uninhibited gal (Jennifer Lawrence) fall in love while rehearsing for a dance competition. Such comfortable familiarity made it possible for the movie’s true personality to emerge, as Russell let his two leads and the rest of his similarly unrestrained ensemble do loop-de-loops in character, introducing contradictions and other moments of refreshing unpredictability to the equation. The result felt spontaneous and alive, the way rowdy scenes from “The Fighter” had (although in that film, the electric energy brought by Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and the rest of their bonkers family eventually settled into a fairly routine boxing movie).

A few years back, a video of Russell sparring with actress Lily Tomlin on the set of “I Heart Huckabees” hit the Web, in which Tomlin complained about how difficult it was to deliver a performance when the director kept changing his mind. The video left the impression that Russell was difficult to work with, while his oeuvre, beginning with the semi-autobiographical incest comedy “Spanking the Monkey” and the no-less-dysfunctional family portrait “Flirting With Disaster,” hinted that the director himself might be mentally unwell, the way certain impressionistic paintings — by Goya, Van Gogh or Munch — give viewers the sense of being trapped inside the head of a crazy person.

The cast of “American Hustle,” by contrast, reveals that certain actors love working with Russell, who lets them go nuts the way no other director does. The “Hustle” ensemble consists mostly of repeat players, combining as it does the casts of “Playbook” and “The Fighter”: Bale, Cooper, Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Amy Adams (whose fiery character is the only one I found remotely identifiable, and yet whose performance — which feels like it should be at the center of the action — seems to have been significantly reduced in the cutting room). From the look of things, these four have been invited to an unruly improv party, but instead of adding to a coherent plot, their performances threaten to run away with the movie.

I saw “American Hustle” on the morning of Dec. 3, as the New York Film Critics Circle were voting on their year-end prizes. As I entered the theater, the film had already won the group’s screenplay prize. (What screenplay? The cast seems to be operating off-book for most of the film.) By the time I emerged a taxing 138 minutes later, “Hustle” had also claimed their best picture award, plus a supporting actress win for Lawrence, who has one great scene (over lunch with Jack Huston), one truly bad scene (singing “Live and Let Die” in her living room) and otherwise seems to be making things up as she goes along.

How has “Hustle” conned so many intelligent people into declaring it a masterpiece? This is a messy C-minus movie at best, one that makes Michael Bay’s “Pain & Gain” look downright disciplined by comparison. And yet, building as it does on Russell’s recent hot streak and a dynamic combination of actors in their prime, the film seemed uniquely situated for a positive critical reception. In the official Variety review, my colleague Justin Chang affectionately referred to the film’s narrative fumblings as “a shaggy, meandering journey,” forgiving its many loose ends and aborted tangents, while others liken it to jazz, that musical style where making it up as you go along is considered a virtue.

Critics have also lavished praise on the film’s costume and wig departments, which trowel the ’70s kitsch on thick as the soundtrack does its period tunes. But just how great are all those plunging necklines and feathered hairstyles if they risk overtaking everything else onscreen, forcing the actors to compete with their own wardrobes? The best example is Bale’s unruly comb-over, which becomes the subject of the first scene and serves as a fitting metaphor for all the false appearances that follow, yet threatens to upstage his actorly grandstanding at every turn.

Meanwhile, is no one else bothered by the way Russell’s film treats its women, seen either as sex objects (in cleavage-baring outfits) or harpies (when they dare question their men)? Once again, the director invites his characters to behave unpredictably, but when it’s a woman who does so, she’s portrayed as a life-wrecking monster. Let’s not forget that one of the film’s more significant subplots asks audiences to root for a criminal (Bale) as he tries to wrest custody of his adopted son away from its unhinged yet law-abiding mother (Lawrence). Granted, one doesn’t look to a film like “American Hustle” for moral guidance. If anything, the film suggests that in the real world, good guys and bad guys alike are corrupt, and the only thing worth fighting for is love. But is a modicum of discipline — the sense that the filmmaker knows what he’s doing, as opposed to cobbling a movie together from what feels like outtakes — too much to ask?

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  1. Todd Gakk says:

    Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, didn’t win a single one. So justice got the last laugh.

  2. Jingus says:

    I completely agree. This article leaves me feeling validated and satisfied, which cannot be said for American Hustle.

  3. Tommy says:

    I really recommend repeat viewings of “American Hustle.” When I saw it in the movie theater I definitely was confused for the first 30 minutes, but I don’t think that took away from the film because I still enjoyed the backstory of the main characters. Once the film was an hour and a half in, “I was hooked”. Personally I found this story so much more character driven than plot driven. I believe that mainstream audiences of films have been spoon-fed cookie cutter plots for so long that when a great con-movie comes along they can’t deal with the confusion (so they just say “ehhh”, I don’t like it). Does anybody remember the movie “The Sting”? It’s arguably the greatest con-move of all time (Oh yeah and it’s pretty confusing the first time you watch it}. Calling “American Hustle” a C- film is an insult on so many levels. I’m not saying a person has to like this movie, but I do think that any person ballsy enough to write a review that bashes “American Hustle” this badly better have seen the film at least 2-3 times. I think the reason for this is because once you understand the story your attention goes directly and really solely to the complex characters. But Hey! That’s just my opinion.

  4. Gerry Kachmarski says:

    I bailed out on American Hustle about one hour in. Couldn’t stand it. A comedy? Hardly. A mess? Definitely. All the idiotic critics who gave this rubbish a score of 100 on IMDB are worse, as critics, than American Hustle is as a movie.

  5. would love to go see the next movie this writer pans as dreadful. just hope it is half as entertaining as American Hustle

  6. I thought Hustle was entertaining – not a “great” movie, but entertaining enough and delivering of the requisite twists necessary in this kind of scam movie. I’m surprised though that the writer thought “Playbook” to be so much better – a movie I thought started out as being truly promising and then suddenly switched gears completely half way through and ended as a predictable happy-ending Rom-com. Felt to me like two completely different half-movies stuck together. So finding it hard to trust the writer’s complaints about Hustle based on his views of Playbook.

  7. Greg Wilson says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this article. I hate feeling stupid, but when AH walked away with so many awards last night, I thought I might be crazy. Bale, Cooper, and Adams are solid, but JL’s performance was laughably bad at times (the group of people I watched with literally was laughing). She seems like a really cool person, but it was clear she had no idea how a middle-aged mother/housewife feels and thinks. I don’t dislike DOR. His movies are fun and even whimsical in their ways, but certainly not the cream of the crop. Best Picture or Best Screenplay?????? mind = blown

  8. Bob says:

    I thought I was the only one checking my wristwatch and wondering when AH would end. It perked up in the 2nd half and there are some excellent scenes, but overall, I left the theater disappointed. Thanks for your apt critique.

  9. Barry says:

    Thank you for nailing this cheap, lousy film. It’s flatter than stale beer. Boring. Directionless. Self indulgently over acted.

  10. VITALY says:

    Saw it at a NY screening and again on an awards Screener and it is bloated. The montage music portions were the best part. Sad I love every actor in it but for the most part they seemed miscast (too young). Like kids in a high school play parodying their parents 70’s era. Don’t get all the love except for a few fun scenes, cleavage and great hair. Also thought Amy Adams was acting in a completely different film from the others..She didnt seem as is in on the irony/joke of the hairstyles etc. The group I saw it the 2nd time had the same reaction. Slow paced, meandering..too much VO telling the story…hope it doesn’t win as Steve McQueen deserves the awards this year for 12 years.

  11. Barry says:

    Have to agree felt this film was flat and anaemic for the reasons you stated.Felt Christian Bale did a good job but overall this film stank!

  12. Bob says:

    THANK YOU!

  13. Marshall Dunbridge says:

    “American Hustle” says it all. The critics were hustled, all right. This film is no better than a grade B TV movie. Bradley Cooper acting? He played it like he was playing the same character as he did in “Silver Linings Playbook”. Jennifer Lawrence’s accent was painful to hear. The opening scene with Christian Bale’s comb-over was sort of frightening in a pseudo-retro way. And Bale was a little too proud of his “gaining weight for the role” paunch–why in the world would Adams’ character fall for him? Martin Scorsese you ain’t, Mr. Russell…”Badfellas” would have been a better title for this overrated straight-to-video snoozefest. The only actors who came close to realistic were Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. When a great actor is onscreen, one forgets who they are in real life; it was impossible to forget these were actors. Gotta agree with Peter DeBruge.

  14. Christina Funk says:

    Thank You. I thought I was the only one. I kept checking the time, and I wasn’t exactly sure how much of that first 1 1/2 hours had anything to do with the plot. The only performance I actually enjoyed from the whole movie was Louis C.K., and I am pretty sure he isn’t the best actor in the film. As a mother of three going to a movie that doesn’t have cartoons or superheroes in it is a rarity. I was disappointed I spent money on this movie.

  15. drush76 says:

    Don’t get me wrong. I understand your complaints about the film. It’s just I felt rather uneasy when you decided to insult the intelligence of those who did not share your view of the film. I found that a little tacky.

    • Sally David says:

      The writer probably knows this, and is capitalizing on the audacity of his comments to get people to the Variety site. Works, doesn’t it?
      The cast was amazing.
      There were some good performances in the film, and David O. Russell is a sweetheart.

  16. Mike says:

    American Hustle is just “The Informant” with better marketing & a love triangle. How one movie tanked and the other is a Best Picture contender is beyond me.

  17. Chris says:

    The film perfectly lived up to it’s title… American hustle. “Hustle : North American – informal – a fraud or swindle.”

    If people can’t see they being ‘hustled’, well more fool them, they are the ones that in the film paid 5k. In some ways they the cinema goers should be happy they only got hustled for $10.

    For others, we know that Scorsese has in Goodfella’s and Casino delivered the real deal. David Russell has not yet learned the true art and craft of writing, rather than just being an dilettante to get a credit. Rather, and sadly, many an imitated scene can be found in the Scorsese movies, but clearly without the knowledge of how and why they work so well, not only at a scene level, but in the context of the whole, and so they really show themselves up as such poor and lowly imitations, in what can only be described as a hustle.

    He certainly has not taken those duplicated scenes, with understanding, and added Joie de vivre to the characters, nor to the whole film, and so has not make them his own. Which was a real lost opportunity, not only for him, but the film, the actors, and particularly the audience.

    Rather he and the editor (particularly taking us out of the bag over head moment, and too many other such scenes to mention) have given us mutton dressed as lamb, but with lashings of mint sauce, so punters (critics included) for the most part just won’t know the difference.

    American hustle – the title says it all.

  18. Auggie Leigh says:

    It’s one thing to see something in a film that other critics do not see. It’s something else to presume that the other critics are all wrong and only the Variety critic sees a film correctly. I would be afraid of reading a critic that right all the time. It means that my own opinion means nothing.

    • Bob says:

      Why don’t you counter his argument rather than just stating he’s wrong. He fully explained what he thinks of the film, and why he disagrees with the majority of reviewers glowing praise.

  19. Derek Adams says:

    This critique seems more like a critic wanting to use this as an opportunity to seem better than other critics.
    You say this film is a C- while you said this about the overrated cartoon Django Unchained: “” An immensely satisfying taste of antebellum empowerment packaged as spaghetti-Western homage.”

    So it would seem you would consider Django better than American Hustle. You even gave a great review to 21 Jump Street, which was a slight step above a Police Academy film.

    American Hustle was a brilliant masterpiece. A wonderful film. But hey, they can’t all be ‘Django’ and ’21 Jump Street’, right?? And we can’t have Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in every film. Too bad, so sad for you.
    Me, I’ll enjoy ‘American Hustle’ and see your article as what it is.

  20. ET says:

    Why is Lawrence considered an actress? Everytime I see her deliver a line it is painful. She is extremely lucky the industry follows the spending trends of preteens, tenns, and lewd men.

  21. R says:

    Wannabe Boogie Nights meets Goodfellas.

  22. Julian White says:

    Finally a review of a film that was 5/5 at the most.
    Thank god for a decent critic speaking his mind.
    Shame to all the others for just toeing the line and not saying it straight.
    I fear that it was a problem of to many cooks and no chefs as far as the final movie is concerned.
    Good actors allowed to improvise without some kind of guidance and a good solid framework coupled with lack of attention to details and sloppy technical work can only become a mess very quickly.
    The only saving grace was Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence.
    No wonder television is quickly taking the upper hand.

  23. b626 says:

    Yup you nailed it. Hubby ticked at me that I drug him to it.

  24. RG says:

    I loved it overall. I agree with the criticism of Jennifer Lawrence’s “bad” scene with “Live and let die”. At one point, for an absolute split second the camera caught her looking right at it and broke the fourth wall and it also caught her smiling embarrassedly at her own improv dance and head shake. It threw me out for a moment, and I kept wondering if anyone else had caught it or were going to upon eventually viewing the movie. Anyway, this whole review became ludicrous to me and whatever merit it may have had went out the window over the mention of how the movie is depicting women. First, it depicted them just fine. These are unique characters and to write a character on what may or may not be acceptable because of a possibility of a reviewers perceived gender politics isn’t the way to write a movie with impact unless thats exactly what the movie is about, gender politics. Should every woman from now until doomsday be depicted in the most flattering empowered way possible just to please political correctness and throw any uniqueness of character or depiction of interesting weakness out the window? C’mon, be braver than that. That said I don’t even agree that these women were in any way depicted that way. I found them to be fascinating characters unto themselves for their own strengths and weaknesses, and imo, Amy Adams in particular.

  25. heather says:

    agreed.

  26. Norma says:

    One problem is that there are relatively few qualified film critics out there. There are writers who write about movies, but their real knowledge about what goes into making a movie is slim to non-existent, so it amounts mainly to cheerleading for actors they like, or slamming actors they don’t.

  27. Ken W Murphy says:

    The acting overshadowed the story. The acting was so good I focused completely on them. When the end of the film arrived, I found I hadn’t kept up with the plot !,

    • Joe Feldman says:

      I agree. Bale and Adam’s were amazing. I too became lost in the plot, specifically at the end when they
      pulled the reverse on Bradley Cooper. I felt like they were in a hurry to get to the end. The end fell
      off a cliff. Bale and especially Adams were terrific.

    • Emerald says:

      Wait… “the acting was so good I focused completely on them”? That seems to be what this author is saying as well. It’s like the guy that criticized Harrison Ford when he was unknown and playing a waiter. He told him that he didn’t look like an actor. And Ford replied “I thought I was supposed to look like a waiter?”. That’s why nobody can rely on the critics. “Oh they didn’t look like they were acting”. Really? The horror. These critics are often contrarian simply to get people to read their ramblings. They need to sell their work as well.

  28. Marce says:

    Are you really a film critic ??? I think if most film critics stand out and give the award of best picture of the year to American Hustle, there is reasonable cause for it. You hate this movie but most film critics love it and the movie is one with more nominations for the Golden Globes awards and it is an Oscar´s candidate as best picture of the year. So sorry but you are almost alone in your bad review of this movie.

    • Will says:

      Huh? So- because he doesnt follow the pack that means he cant really be a film critic? What a stupid comment. The majority often follows the crowd- but it doesnt make them correct necessarily.

  29. lalamav says:

    I liked the first half, then it just started to get silly afterwards. I will say one thing, Amy Adams is sensational

  30. Sam says:

    “Meanwhile, is no one else bothered by the way Russell’s film treats its women, seen either as sex objects (in cleavage-baring outfits) or harpies (when they dare question their men)?”

    Did you even bother paying attention to Amy Adams’s character at all? She had two men in the palm of her hand. She was in complete control of both of them. So did Rosalyn, Jennifer Lawrence’s character. If anything, you could criticize Russell’s portrayal of women as manipulative. I wouldn’t say they’re “harpies,” but definitely manipulative.

    I thought it was good that the performances were over the top because that essentially defines the period of the 70’s they were focusing on.

  31. OMFG…talk about not getting the movie…

  32. wow… pain and gain? really? this critic is a damned fool.

  33. This guy, by saying this movie “conned” the critics, is actually implying that he is much smarter than the rest of the critics because he wasn’t “conned” by it. Ridiculous. You can actually say you disliked the movie than dissing your other fellow critics and touting your opinion as far more superior than theirs, or by default, ours.

  34. John Daker says:

    Agreed.

    Loved The Fighter, and I thought SLP was great despite some over-acting from JLaw, but this movie was disappointing.

    It has flashes of greatness throughout, and the acting is fantastic (well ‘most’ of Jennifer Lawrence’s acting), but not one aspect quite hits it out of the park, and a lot of the comedy misses the mark unfortunately.

    • Derek Adams says:

      Exactly!! The entire point of this guys article is to attempt to elevate his status above other critics. He fails miserably.
      He loved Django Unchained and 21 Jump Street. (Seriously!) While he disses this wonderful film.

      • Kyle says:

        Wow it’s almost like reviews are opinions or something? At least 21 Jump Street wasn’t pretentious and self-indulgent like this movie.

  35. J@NYC says:

    I thank you for this review. I just saw this movie and totally agree with you. I waited for two hours for a plot that unfolded like a wrinkled sweater shoved in the back of my closet all summer. It was as if I was watching a really bad version of Goodfellas. Not a good movie at all

  36. Thank you thank you thank you for writing this. Holy smokes, I thought I was the only one.

  37. Aaron says:

    I totally agree, I love Russell’s work but I feel like crazy script + crazy director = incoherent movie. I feel like Silver Linings and Fighter were relatively simple stories, so Russell’s craziness really worked. Not so much here. I never felt like there was anything or anyone I could latch on to.

    • Sally David says:

      Calling the director “crazy” is not useful. It’s a serious allegation. I think you mean something else.

      • Sandra says:

        I agree with Sally David here. Although not a fan of this movie, and definitely not a fan of Jennifer Lawrence’s, you can not say a director is crazy. He is a talented mad genius, and might be crazy in a good way, so if anything that would help his work. Crazy as in clinically insane, he is not. That said, I think we are all a little crazy right?

  38. RedRiver says:

    This might be the silliest “review” I’ve ever read. What’s the point? So you didn’t like the movie and others did? Get over it. I thought the movie was terrific.

  39. Alex says:

    Eh. I think you may have either missed or dismissed the “Some of this actually happened”, which kind of torpedos your entire review. You seem to be criticizing the positive reviews of the film while trying to connect it to the film and it doesn’t work. American Hustle doesn’t purport to be a historical documentary or have any accuracy whatsoeve, and the “Some of this actually happened” essentially is a very upfront way of saying: Watch this (and hopefully enjoy it) but don’t try to make too much sense of it or follow it for accuracy. I think you missed that part because it seems like those who ‘got it’, thoroughly enjoyed the film. As for the over-the-top praise of the film and performances, critics always have their motivations and who knows what goes on behind the scenes in relationship between the film industry and film reviewers. I thought the cast was excellent though. Perhaps you woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. It happens.

    • Jingus says:

      Your comment is completely off the mark. The author’s review of the film had nothing to do with whether or not the story was historically accurate. No part of his article should have given you that idea. The author didn’t like the film because it didn’t have a coherent plot. In fact… The “Some of this actually happened” disclaimer is exactly what a director is supposed to use in order to sacrifice historical accuracy for the sake of good storytelling. This… was not good storytelling.

  40. reviewer says:

    FINALLY!!! I thought I was alone in thinking that this film sucked. I appreciate your bold move to go against the grain with this review! Your analysis of why Playbook & Wrestler worked vs. Hustle makes sense as well. Thanks for this smart article.

  41. slappy magoo says:

    Debruge bemoans how women are treated in Russel’s film in the same paragraph he refers to a child as an “it.” Anyone else find that creepy?

  42. Steve S. says:

    I disagree. I thought AM. HUSTLE was a great stylistic piece on a past scandal and the late 70s era. Amy Adams was fantastic. And it built true moral, dramatic steam as it headed towards its conclusion.

    The issues you raise about C. Bale’s character are just p.c. potshots and it also seems you desired some sort of historical bio approach to the material. That’s not the purpose here nor would it make for an interesting story.

    There is more falseness in SILVER LININGS NOTEBOOK, which is filmed with tricks in place of a story. AM. HUSTLE is superior by far… I don’t understand what you and other critics mean when you say it was a mess.

  43. gris says:

    I was baffled by the praise too. I would have walked out but I was curious to see how many editors there were. There were a lot. And an unseemly amount of producers too. It could be too many cooks. I was disturbed by the abuse of music for scene and mood changes. 4 different songs in one scene alone. Just a mess. A cocky pretentious mess.

  44. suck a dick. american hustle was great.

  45. Carl White says:


    I have not seen this film yet but after seeing The Wolf of Wall Street I do have a theory relevant to the critique. As a film fan that sees several movies a week in the theatre and more than I can count at home I believe the modern film director has sacrificed the art form in the pursuit of a common denominator form of entertainment and personal desire to be popular and famous.
    I realize it can be debated whether this is a good thing or not and I realize that the movies started as a simple way to entertain the masses but I personally prefer art that challenges you and makes you think and feel to simple entertainment made to entertain everyone in some form or fashion.
    But it is also more than that, I feel that directors have become too powerful, too full of themselves, famous directors have become rock stars in the modern world and they seem to be buying in to the hype. Instead of being true to the material, giving the material exactly what it needs it feels like directors these days are adding flourishes and wasting brushstrokes in an effort to be noticed, to entertain everyone instead of simply making a great film, telling a great story, making a great work of art.
    I realize it can be argued they have no choice, that movies are swimming upstream against the tide of TV and the decline of adults going to the theatre and that creates a desperation to put butts in seats at the expense of telling the story and making something great.
    David O. Russell seems like the poster boy for my theory. Silver Linings Playbook was a sweet romantic comedy, nothing more, it entertained me and then evaporated from my consciousness like a hit of some party narcotic on a Saturday night. That is about the best I can say for any of his films. He throws paint all over the canvas and its often pretty and exciting but it does not mean it makes me feel anything that is real and it does not mean his art will be anything anyone will be talking about and debating a 100, or even 20, years from now. He probably does not care.
    And poor Scorsese with The Wolf of Wall Street. What a complete mess. There is a great movie somewhere in that mess but it obviously did not make it to the screen. I have never watched a film that seemed to so desperately want to entertain that it completely lost its way in trying to tell the story. I have read the stories that the film was rushed and that could explain why the film felt like a jigsaw puzzle put together with most of the pieces in the wrong places but I do hope Scorsese will slow down next time and just tell the story.
    I guess I need to see American Hustle.

    • Sally David says:

      Worth seeing. Would love to see what you have to say.
      Yes– the films are rushed out rather quickly in many cases. What are some of your favorite films that hold the viewer’s attention and tell a good story?

  46. Linh Vanngo says:

    I’m a software engineer, and maybe it’s also baffling to some to point out an analogy between software minded thinkers versus hardware folks. I always find one need to follow the specs in manufacturing, and rightly so, and one need to be able to move and adjust in the software arena, thrive in its dynamics. I think people who were open to say this is one style of movies and left it at that are open and accepting of different work, who understand that like movies, life also has its hard facts and adjustable points of view. It is a bit harsh to call such an enjoyable movie a conn.

  47. Sally David says:

    “Conned” is a strong word for David O. Russell’s film. It was delightful for its performances and its observation that we all “hustle” for something. Russell is on to something–and I look forward to seeing his movies–because Silverlinings Playbook was ground-breaking. Russell is developing as a writer and director–and is creating an ensemble of good actors who care about craft and the important issues Russell presents. News services also want to create shock value by printing takedowns of films the public likes: it’s all part of the hustle. The film is quirky, but certainly is not as bad as you say. Sheer hyperbole to attract readers. Next time, wait for the DVD so you won’t feel cheated.

  48. Shawn D. says:

    I disagree 100%. This movie is so much FUN, such unbridled entertainment that it makes most other Hollywood movies from 2013 look dead on arrival. Who needs entire cities being destroyed, giant robots, dudes wearing flying suits and all that other crap when you can watch real actors being 100 times as entertaining for about 1/4 of the budget? The unruly nature of this film IS like jazz improvisation, what you lose in precision you gain ten fold in joyous exploration and risk taking. I wish more movies were this “sloppy”.

    • Uh Shawn, keep in mind that all these “real actors” also play or have played superheros! Remember Lawrence is Mystique in X-Men, Bale was Batman for over half a decade, and Renner is Hawkeye in the Avengers! This is one of the selling points of the film to me, that we are seeing actually some of the best actors of today prove themselves in a genre that they are normally not seen in or known for! They should have a chance to go off script because the truly talented ones are the performers that can not only act out a screenwriter’s material. They bring the character to life way beyond the page once the cameras are rolling!

  49. DA says:

    I’ve not seen the movie but I cannot help noticing the trend in the comments here. Many tend to agree with Peter Debruge’s assessment of the movie. However, the folks who disagree attack Peter instead of refuting the content of his assessment. Something seems imbalanced here. The opinion should be attacked–not the person.

  50. RozRuss says:

    I hated, HATED that moronic crap film “Silver Linings Playbook,” and now that I know that this is the same director, I wont bother wasting the time.

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