Amsterdam (2022)

Quick synopsis: Three friends who witness a murder, become suspects themselves, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.

This should be the type of film I like. It’s a star-filled cast in a movie based on an underknown aspect of American history (the Business Plot of 1933), it should be fun. If not fun, it should be interesting and a fascinating watch.

It’s not though, despite having all the ingredients of a film I like, the end result just didn’t do anything for me. I think a big issue is the pacing, it’s far too long, and doesn’t use the time well. It spends far too long setting up the mood and time, meanwhile, the narrative itself stands still. A good story is a long-distance runner, it varies the pace when it needs to so it keeps momentum until the end. This film approaches narrative like I approached long-distance running, going way too fast for a minute, and then having to stop for 5 minutes to get my breath. It’s really unfocused, giving us backstories and explanations that we don’t really need.

It also has a huge tonal problem. The subject is very serious, about an attempted coup against the United States government, and the mistreatment of veterans from the first world war. Yet the film is written, directed, and performed like a madcap caper. As the Western World is flirting with fascism, showing the concept of dictatorships our thighs and fluttering eyelashes, it’s hard to take films like these as lightweight. Especially when it’s trying to make parallels to modern times (as in, times which are modern, not the Charlie Chaplin film, which is actually more relevant today). The film wants to be taken seriously whilst not being a serious film. “hey, the threat of fascism is looming and business owners want to control every aspect of your life and kill those you hold dea-oh look, someone fell over, tee-hee”. It also doesn’t feel like the characters are taking it seriously, they all seem too self-aware that they’re not in any danger because they’re the main characters.

It’s a shame as the story is one that should be told, just not by this writer. Adam McKay would have been a better shout to do this. The way he handled The Big Short shows that he can do films of this nature well. David O.Russell doesn’t feel the right choice for this. Then again, I didn’t like Joy or American Hustle much either, so maybe it’s just I don’t vibe with his style. The performances are also really good, there’s not really a weak link, and the three leads have excellent chemistry.

It’s also very very funny. Getting some great reactions from the people I was in the cinema with. Not just small laughs, full-on belly laughs that you rarely get in audiences. I feel this could be edited into a better film, but at the moment it’s just too much of a challenge to get through. I might watch it again if it’s on Netflix and I can skip certain parts. But I’m not going to go out of my way to see it. Mainly because it feels like a film, and more like a drunk guy at the pub telling you a story.


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