If you toss out any interest in snappy dialog, sound plotting, and practical casting, David O. Russell's repertory cast has a great time working their improv muscles.
Everyone plays against type, and several of these award-worthy performances are from actors who should have never been cast in their roles:
- It makes no sense to cast Christian Bale as a over-the-hill, fat, bald, Jewish con man from Long Island. To his credit, he lives and breathes the part, every moment is genuine. It just makes no sense coming from this actor!
- I have a ton of respect for Amy Adams, who looks like a quintessential America's Sweetheart. She's so frickin' adorable, but she has no interest in playing those roles. OK, yes, she did make Leap Year and Enchanted, but she'll be remembered for powerful roles in The Master, The Fighter, Doubt, and Sunshine Cleaning.
- Bradley Cooper is So. Funny. He looks half ridiculous, half "this isn't so weird" in his pin curls, full beard, and G-man suits.
- Jennifer Lawrence is supremely talented, very funny, but 15 or 20 years too young to play a faded beauty desparately clinging to Bale's character as her last chance to maintain her way of life. She turned 23 last summer, she's one of the best-looking women on Earth- why is she so desperate to hang onto this dissolute con man when there are scores of men who'd love to marry her and support her? My wife pointed out that another Jennifer would be much better cast in this role - Jennifer Aniston turns 45 this week and she'd bring a great combination of faded beauty and comic timing to the part.
- My wife and I owe an apology to Jeremy Renner. We had him pegged as a humorless loner. He plays such intense, violent characters - sometimes sociopathic - in The Hurt Locker, The Town, Mission: Impossible, The Avengers, and The Bourne Legacy, that his performance as a sweet, earnest family man is a wonderful surprise.