‘American Hustle’ Wows At First Industry Screening

Sony held the first major screening of David O. Russell‘s American Hustle last night at the Cary Grant Theatre on the Culver City lot. The packed crowd was largely made up of SAG and a few Academy members, plus select press.

If rivals were hoping it would be a bust, or at the very least a disappointment, I hate to bring them the bad news. Although formal reviews are verboten until early next month, I can say that from my vantage point, Russell, whose last two films Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and The Fighter (2010) were nominated for Best Picture and Director, as well as taking some acting Oscars, has another winner with a film that will have strong appeal particulary in the actors branch and at SAG. I also think, even in this fiercely contested year, Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing and Costume nods could be in the cards along with any number of possibilities for its superb ensemble including lead actor Christian Bale, lead actress Amy Adams, supporting actors Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, and supportng actress Jennifer Lawrence.

(…)The film, loosely based on the 70s Abscam government sting operation which nailed several members of Congress, involves Bale and Adams in a con game where they team up with an out-of-control FBI agent played by Cooper. Bale is remarkable and, in customary fashion for him, put on 40 pounds and shaved his head so he could create a hairstyle with a god-awful combover. Adams is complex and excellent and Cooper, sporting a perm, matches his Oscar-nominated work in Silver Linings. Renner, even though playing a corrupt but likeable politician, also shines as the soul of this enterprise.

(…)Afterwards Russell, Adams, Renner, co-star Elisabeth Rohm, editor Jay Cassidy, costume designer Michael Wilkinson and casting director Mary Vernieu appeared for a 40-minute Q&A.
The actors all said it was a free-flowing atmosphere on set with ever changing script pages. Editor Cassidy, who also won an Oscar nomination for Silver Linings, echoed that when he said in the editing room, “I got to be there for the final re-write.” There was also improv. In fact Adams, who doesn’t often take credit, said a scene in which she impulsively grabs Lawrence in the ladies room and kisses her full-on on the lips was actually her idea and she praised Lawrence for making it work. “She’s amazing. She’s fearless. I’m fearful, but I will do anything except I will do it with a lot of thought. Unless Jennifer is keeping a secret though, she’s completely fearless,” she said.

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  • Raghavendra Prasad