#1 AMERICAN HUSTLE
Starring Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradly Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence, directed by David O Russell, written by Eric Singer and David O Russell.
138 minutes long.
Set in the 1970's this is a 'fictionlisation' of a famous FBI sting operation called ABSCAM, in which the FBI bank rolled a fake Arab sheik to trap various politicians taking bribes.
In the film, con man, Christian Bale and his girl friend, Amy Adams are forced by Bradley Cooper to help the FBI run a sting operation to capture four con men, the sting grows and ends up targeting not only Jeremy Renner's Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, but US Senators, Congressmen and the head of a Mafia family too. As a result, Bale's personal life starts to unravel as the stings and double crosses grow out of control, effecting not only his relationship with his bi-polar wife, played by the always excellent Jennifer Lawrence but also, Amy Adams, the true love of his life.
This is a fantastically well written and exceedingly complex film which demands attention and which treats its audience as grown ups and as such expects them to be able keep up.
Billed as a comedy, crime drama, the comedy, what little there is, comes from shock and tension rather than actual comedic moments, although Louis C.K. as Bradley Cooper's boss is exceedingly funny. However, it's the tension that builds throughout the film which is truly incredible, becoming almost unbearable when our anti-heroes meet with Robert Deniro's character, a mafia boss, giving a bone-chilling performance to rival his best and we, Adams and Bale finally realise how big the stakes are they're playing for!
Everything about this film is beautifully measured and executed, from the performances to the costumes, to set design and sound track. But it's the cast that deserves special attention, each and every member is nothing less than superb, with Amy Adams giving a career best performance as Sydney Prosser, Christian Bale continues to create utterly believable characters that make you forget it's him beneath the bad comb-over and beard, Bradley Cooper demonstrates that he's not just a pretty face by delivering another fantastic performance and Jeremy Renner brings a real tenderness and warmth to the role of Carmine Polito, the Mayor - perhaps the only decent man in the whole film.
A solid, thrilling and utterly engrossing film, a great way to start the new year! My only niggle was that it was perhaps a too long.