Amsterdam – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Amsterdam – Love and Murder … A Friendship Conspiracy

To witness something genuine, it begins with the storyteller.  Within their vision, there is a hope that the narrative will be fun and exciting.  Like any medium, film gives the endless to storytelling, creating the art of escape within that genuine feel.  No matter if the film is good or bad, there will be a point to the storyteller’s journey.  In this review, I look at the latest from writer/director David O’Russell.  With this film, he takes on a path of charismatic characters in a convoluted story.  An inspiring tale of true events, Amsterdam will have you enjoying moments with slight emptiness in the end. 

This is a story that begins with friendship in the aftermath of war.  As three friends’ lives are threatened, will they survive or fall prey to outside forces?  To begin this review, it is good to mention that David O’Russell is a director known for great character storytelling.  With films like The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, he creates moments of realism through the dynamic of relationships.  This new entry follows that outline of characterization, but drives further through a twist of politics, murder and conspiracy.  At the heart of this journey are three characters: Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale), Valerie Voze (Margot Robbie) and Harold Woodman (John David Washington).  Through convenient plot devices, you find that they became friends at the end of the first World War in Amsterdam.  This pseudo flashback leads into the main plot, Burt and Harold being framed for murder.  Through whimsical dialogue and general setups, the journey weaves through investigative elements as they try to find out why they are being framed.  Their journey eventually leads to the Voze Estate, where they reunite with Valerie.  From this point, the journey takes a turn into frenetic storytelling, building the conspiracy through situational humor and odd/cheeky like character moments.  As situations become obscure, it provides a riveting sensation at the expense of essential plot development.  Things get lost in the moment while also providing colorful characters against the backdrop of realism.  Things seem to be steadying within O’Russell’s vision, but the weight of the conspiracy starts to unravel the whimsical moments for the worst.   

With certain revelation about why the murders occurred, it sets the stage for forced plot devices, unexpected character introductions and heavy dialogue exposition.  The weight of loose storytelling comes to backfire, leading to diatribes overshadowing the quirky character moments.  This all leads to a third act where the conflict of mood and tone, causing the great situational humor to be outplayed forced expositional dialogue (for the sake of true events).  With lives on the lines, it leads to a subpar climax and epilogue.  Amsterdam is a film of great character moments but convoluted story.  If you are a fan of those involved, David O’Russell or like character films, I say it might be worth it.  Check this out at the theaters … but for the right price. 

Full Score – 3 out of 5 (Theater Discount)

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