starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence
screenplay by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
directed by David O. Russell
by Angelo Muredda "The world is extremely grey," a con artist intones in American Hustle, which for all its ineffectual stabs at ambivalence is a curiously prescriptive heist movie, the kind that constantly updates its ledger about who deserves what in the end, in case someone should go unrewarded. It's hard to say when David O. Russell--a formerly prickly sort so effectively housebroken in recent years that he's now on the fast track to Academy Award nominations four through five--became so square as to depend on this sort of moral calculus for his dramatic fulfillment: Its equally big-picture pronouncements aside, I ♥ Huckabees seems an odd way station between the redemptive U2-scored montage that closes Three Kings and the brotherly hug of The Fighter, as well as a far more pugilistic film than the one about boxing. Whatever the genesis of his newfound softness (which Russell has insisted is the mark of his maturity as an artist), it's never been as out of synch with either his manic sensibility or his aesthetic of distended, freewheeling set-pieces and outsized actorly emoting as it is here.