A film which could deservedly take home a clean sweep at this year’s Oscars ceremony, with fully merited nominations in the best film, director, actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress categories.
It’s from writer/director David O. Russell (Eric Warren Singer wrote the original version of the screenplay, which was more focused on the real events that inspired it) hot on the heels of his success with 2012’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and once again featuring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper – this time in supporting roles, with Christian Bale and Amy Adams taking the lead as two con artists forced to work for the FBI in order to try and catch bigger fish, specifically the mayor of Camden, New Jersey – played by Jeremy Renner. The only problem is, the mayor and his associates are willing to break the law in order to speed the wheels of a deal which would reap great benefits for the local community, cue certain moral dilemmas.
At its heart though, this is a story about the central characters and their relationships with one another, told against the backdrop of high crime and egotistical one-upmanship. The same strong vein of comedy that existed throughout Silver Linings is once again in fine form here, possibly to the extent that if you liked that movie you almost certainly will enjoy this too, and naturally the converse of that is likely just as true.
It’s difficult to think of that many films where all of the cast do such a universally impressive job, together with O. Russell, and it is nice to see it getting the attention it deserves, with Bale in particular giving one his finest performances in an already illustrious career, here once again replete with a physical transformation – gaining a very noticeable amount of excess baggage for the role.
Set around 1978, the film very cleverly opens with the line ‘Some of this stuff actually happened’, partly because the story is very loosely based on the Abscam sting operation, but it’s also perhaps a jibe aimed in the direction of ‘Argo’, which beat Silver Linings to win the best picture Oscar but which also came under heavy fire (including from The Red Dragon) for saying ‘Based on a true story’, and yet it fabricated almost everything…