“Some of this actually happened” is the opening title, there are no credits, on the most pitch perfect movie since Argo and before that Magnolia.
It’s a mob movie with grifters.
The ensemble cast is led gloriously, no miraculously, by Christian Bale (really? Christian Bale?) in perhaps the most astounding physical transformation since De Niro in Raging Bull.
And what an ensemble. Bradley Cooper is hilarious throughout, not least because of his Starsky-esque tight perm and outrageous swagger.
Amy Adams is simply electrifying – in so many movies she is brilliant but in this she is radiant. (Surely she will win at the Academy Awards at the fifth time of asking in the Spring).
Jennifer Lawrence is gearing up to win as many awards as Meryl Streep as she glides effortlessly from franchise movie to big American Drama via the odd arthouse number. She is wonderful.
And then there is the unsung star; Jeremy Renner who plays an important leading subplot character role as the mayor of New Jersey.
Maybe it’s not surprising that the ensemble works so well because this cast has been Oscar nominated no less than 17 times; Cooper (once) Adams (4 times) Bale (Once and won for O’Russell’s The Fighter) Renner (twice) Lawrence (Twice with one win) and in a supporting role De Niro (seven times winning twice). By the time March comes that will be at least 20.
And then there’s O’Russel, who is on fire. In my opinion he is now as good as PT Anderson with Oscar nods for this (surely), Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter; his last three movies.
It’s a film you never want to end with a plot that twists and turns like a mongoose in a sack with a cobra. So it’s impossible to plot spoil because it’s so complex. But the writing is nailed on in every scene so that you are carried along on a wave of gasps and belly laughs (it really is very funny indeed).
The camerawork (Linus Sandgren) is beautifully evocative of time and place (late 70’s New York).
One scene in particular sees Amy Adams just about have actual real life sex in an ecstatic Studio 54 washroom trap, to the thudding soundtrack of “I Feel Love”. It had me open mouthed. Indeed she achieves this effect more than once.
In another, late in the film, Lawrence kisses Adams on the mouth so hard that she leaves all her lipstick behind. Spraying her territory. Marking Adams’ cards. It’s brilliant.
(The kiss of a spiderwoman.)
“You’re nothing to me until you’re everything.” says Adams’ character, Sydney Prosser, to Cooper’s FBI agent. And this is possibly the central thought in the film.
It’s all about possession; of power, of women, of money.
And it’s what blinds the foolish and drives them to make wrong, ill thought out decisions that can have, and do have, monumental implications.
The moral is; don’t play with the big boys unless you’ve got your wits about you.
Christian Bale most certainly has his.
A resounding 10 out of 10.