DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
It seems only fitting that this film is helmed by a very talented conman. This overlong pastiche might have its moments, but in the end this collection of moments, in my eyes, does not warrant all the praise it has been getting.
I can see the appeal. O'Russell always imbues his films with a certain frenetic energy, that can produces some truly memorable moments when handled correctly. In American Hustle, O'Russell seems to be desperately chasing these moments and while this produces an enjoyable energy, it is in the end rather unrewarding as he only reaches these moments on a couple of occasions.
American Hustle is laden with the basest of symbolism, giving cause to a lot of eye rolling scenes that made me want to scream 'I get it, David!'. Everyone is fake and in dire need of a moral compass. Appearance is an important aspect in American Hustle and I appreciate the attention to detail, but by laying it on so thick it more often than not feels like a dress up party for a bunch of talented actors.
There is most definitely some fine acting here. Perhaps not worthy of all those nominations, but overall it's definitely good. Bale is excellent and does the most with his character that deserved a far better exploration than O'Russel gives him. He is a conman with a conscience, an intriguing anti-hero. Unfortunately, we never get to the bottom if him, which is a shame. Renner, Cooper and Lawrence are all fine, nothing special, just solid. The true star if the film is Adams though. Her performance is fantastic. She is the only one that manages to instill her character with a realness that sticks out like a welcome sore thumb in what is essentially a sea of caricatures.
The script and most notably the dialogue is very uneven. The plot lingers long in certain places, often making scenes feel either superfluous or repetitive. The dialogue really is all over the place, it ranges from truly annoying 'Here's what's going on' voiceover work to some truly spectacular and sometimes hilarious exchanges. It almost mirrors the hectic energy levels of O'Russels direction, sometimes shouting when he needs to be silent and sometimes getting it just right.
Perhaps it's me getting a bit annoyed by seeing American Hustle hop and skip over its own potential one time too many, perhaps it just is that superficial screwball comedy it seems to be, but I just found myself getting increasingly annoyed by O'Russell fishing far too long in his own shallow pond. Not that I give the Academy that much credit, but American Hustle's 10 nominations are well and truly beyond me. Iguess I'll just have to appreciate the con.