American Hustle

Why American Hustle was a really good movie—but never truly soared

There are so many movies I want to see this month* but, sadly, the price of being a parent with young kids is that I inevitably won’t get to see them all. The challenge instead is to choose the one or two that I’d like to see at the cinema over those I’m happy to wait to rent on iTunes.

Last night was date night with my wife, Rachel, and, with all these highly rated movies out, we decided to do dinner and a movie. After a fair bit of deliberation, we went for American Hustle. It’s a absorbing story about a con man, along with his seductive British partner, being forced to work for a wild FBI agent.

Though I enjoyed the movie, and thought the acting was brilliant, I came out feeling somewhat disappointed and a little underwhelmed. It was clever, engaging, and kept my attention—but it never quite took off.

On many levels it was a great movie, but I didn’t find myself rooting for any of the characters. They were all interesting, but none of them truly won me over. There’s something within us as humans that, whenever we’re hear a story, we like to take sides. And it’s always unsettling when we don’t find ourselves drawn to any particular side. Mainly though, after reading several positive reviews, I think I just had higher hopes.

I don’t feel like it was a wasted cinema trip but, since I’ll only be able to fit in one more movie this month, it does make my next choice harder. I’m probably going to go for 12 Years a Slave. I’ve heard so, so many positive things about that film. My only worry is that, as with American Hustle, the reviews lead me to watch it with too high expectations.

*Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street.

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