Prefaced by a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer - “Some of this actually happened” - David O Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ is a comedy about a hare-brained scheme to expose corruption within the corridors of power.
This is a self-indulgent, painfully funny and scattershot film that attempts to con us into believing it is smarter and funnier than the glossy and expensive mess that flickers before our eyes.
Russell is blessed with a talented ensemble cast and individually, they deliver powerhouse performances that elicit howls of laughter or tug the heartstrings.
Unfortunately, putting all these misfit characters together in one film feels like the inmates have taken over the asylum while the writer-director casually strings together polished vignettes with scant regard for narrative clarity.
The other big release this week, and something entirely different is ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’
The film is reverential and respectful, adapted from Mandela’s memoirs of the same name by Oscar-nominated screenwriter William Nicholson. There is nothing here to desecrate the memory of the South African statesman, who was a lynchpin in the abolition of apartheid.
And finally, ‘Last Vegas’ is a raucous comedy about four sexagenarian friends, whose cosy existence unravels during a boozy stag weekend in the Nevada desert.
While the plot of Last Vegas might creak with familiarity, the film packs more big laughs into 105 minutes than ‘The Hangover’ shoehorned into an entire trilogy.
Director Jon Turteltaub undercuts the geriatric lechery with genuine sweetness.