Hairstyles show deeper meaning in American Hustle

A review by Brenda Daniels

American Hustle has been nominated for Best Picture and various other awards for the upcoming Oscar ceremony on 3 March, so I went along to the South African preview to see what all the fuss was about.

The film, set in New Jersey in the 1970s, tells the story of con man, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), and his partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). The two meet and become lovers and then, posing as a Briton with “banking connections”, Sydney helps Irving take his underhand dealings to a new level. Caught out by FBI agent, Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), they are lured into an even bigger world of crime in an effort to catch dirty politicians and the mafia red-handed.

Cooper brought a certain manic amusement to his role as an agent determined to make it big and I enjoyed this. The hoodwinked politician, Mayor Carmine Polito, played by Jeremy Renner, had a certain endearing vulnerability to him, and Irving, convincingly played by Bale, had a soft side to him, exhibiting patience with his dumb wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), and affection for his young son.

The film opens with Irving working on an elaborate “comb-over” hairdo, and most of the characters sported hairstyles that required some work. This aspect seemed to mirror the characters’ fake lifestyles, and highlighted their weak efforts at, now and then, wanting to “be real” with each other.

Apart from these mildly redeeming qualities the characters and action in American Hustle are relentlessly seedy.

It was hard, and in fact quite boring, to enjoy a two-hour film that gave no interesting message, showed no characters I could identify with enough to care about, and provided no relief from the dirt. Whilst I don’t like the 70s era with its iconic clothing, music, coiffeurs and American mobsters, there are viewers who do. They’ll get plenty in this film.

American Hustle opens at Ster Kinekor in South Africa on 28 February. It carries an age restriction of 16LS.

Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Amy Adams in a scene of American Hustle (Source: Creative Commons)

Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Amy Adams in a scene of American Hustle (Source: Creative Commons)

Gravity and Captain Phillips to be re-released

For those who missed Gravity or Captain Phillips on the big screen here’s some good news from Ster-Kinekor:

With the film awards season in full swing, the Oscar nominations announced and the potential winners being widely debated, Ster-Kinekor and Cinema Nouveau are giving movie lovers another chance to catch some of the multi-Oscar nominated titles that were released towards the end of last year.

Both Gravity and Captain Phillips are being re-released to give audiences an immersive cinema experience to appreciate fully the emptiness of space and the vastness of the ocean. Both films are being re-released on Friday, 31 January at select Ster-Kinekor and Cinema Nouveau cinemas nationally.

Gravity is being released in 3D at Ster-Kinekor Sandton City in Johannesburg and Cavendish Square in Cape Town, while Captain Phillips will be re-released at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg, Gateway in Durban and the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Bookings will open today Friday 24 January.

For more information and to make a booking, visit or call Ticketline on 082 16789.

Captain Phillips


Gravity's leading lady, Sandra Bullock.    (Source: Creative Commons)

Gravity’s leading lady, Sandra Bullock. (Source: Creative Commons)