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You won’t be left short-changed.

This time last year David O’ Russell, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were sweeping all before them with the comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook and fast-forwarding 12 months, the trio are at it again. American Hustle sees director O’ Russell re-united with ‘the Fighter’ star Christian Bale who is almost un-recognisable as slimy con-man Irving Rosenfeld. The 70s-set plot sees Irving make a fortune alongside lover Sydney Pr Polito (Jeremy Renner).

A film about con-men immediately sparks images of the slick class that defined Ocean’s Eleven, Duplicity and Confidence, but American Hustle is nothing of the kind. Its 70’s feel is a retro throwback is distinctly un-classy, as the film instead offers a deeper, character-drama, back up with some brilliant performances. Christian Bale expertly plays the washed-up loser Irving with remarkable conviction, really letting himself go to play a vile character you feel sorry for.

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Cooper also impresses and delivers some outrageous lines, but its Jennifer Lawrence’s hilarious turn as Irving’s embarrassing wife Rosalyn that often steals the show. America Hustle delivers some intelligent humour and is very funny at times but it is not an all-out comedy, and despite a central love pentagon, is not a romantic either. Following a similar structure to the all-conquering Silver Linings, Russell crafts a perfectly weighted drama which contains enough thrilling ingredients to fill a thoroughly entertaining two hours. Even when the film threatens to drag slightly, it changes tone and twists into something fresh and unexpected.

American Hustle fully deserved its three Golden Globes, and should rightly be seen as a contender come Oscar season. The only downside is that it falls in a month containing many other award-aimed heavyweights, but of all the films making noise in a crowded January, this is a gem you cannot afford to miss out on.