My first film review of the year is American Hustle, the latest film from David O. Russell, whose last two films (The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook) were both brilliant. And this latest film does manage to live up to the standards set by these.

American Hustle is a comedy crime film, that is loosely based on a real sting operation called Abscam, as it says at the beginning “Some of this actually happened”. Telling the story of Irvine Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) two con artists who FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) force into entrapping some big name politicians into taking bribes, including New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). The number of people being targeted by the sting operation grows making Irvine very uncomfortable, whilst his relation with Sydney breaks down more and more, not helped by his refusal to leave his wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and son, and him bringing them into the scam.

The story goes along at a good pace, and like all good hustle stories, has clever twists, although I did see the main one at the end coming a fair way off. The film also does a great job of balancing this enthralling story with well developed characters and a good amount of laughs. Indeed although not an outright comedy, the film has far more laughs in it than your bog standard comedy film (normally staring Adam Sandler or the like).

But the thing that really elevated this was the performance of the stellar cast. Both Bale and Adams in the leads were excellent and Bale in particular shows his breadth of acting talent, especially when you compare his character here with Dicky from the fighter or Batman in the Dark Knight Trilogy you can see why he has to be considered one of the most dependable actor around, capable of carrying just about any kind of film, as long as it’s not Terminator. Adams, following on from an ok portrayal of Lois Lane in Man of Steel, really upped her performance here and deserves her many Best Actress nominations, despite her ropey English accent for part of the film (although that works as she is playing an American playing a Englishwoman in the scams). Both Cooper, whose DiMaso was brilliant, and Jennifer Lawrence, who as ever is hugely watchable and does something completely new here, deservedly completely the whitewash of actor/actress nominations with all the major awards.

So for me David O. Russell’s latest film has continued his excellent run of films, and is certainly an early contender for my film of the year. If you haven’t already go and watch it.