Amsterdam: a parade of superstars, but how many stars is it really worth?

Amsterdam, the new film by David O’Russel (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) has not gone unnoticed with such a cast. Christian Bale, John David Washington and Margot Robbie are the three main leads, but there are also Robert de Niro, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Taylor Swift, Zoe Saldana and Michael Shannon. In short, this film has a dream cast. But what is it really worth?

In Amsterdam, David O’Russel transports us to 1930s New York for an investigation that is much more complex than it seems. Indeed, while one might think it’s a simple murder mystery, we find ourselves immersed in a plot about a major coup d’état in the United States.
However if the five star cast, the sets and costumes and the plot promise a quality film, it was a little disappointing…

A movie too long

This is a recurring problem with many films recently, but it was too long. It seems that the new norm for Hollywood films is to make films that are over two hours long, some even almost three hours long. But very few films manage to keep us in suspense for that long, and that didn’t fail with Amsterdam. Some moments could have been shortened to avoid boring passages. While the confusion was probably intended by the director, it was a bit much. Sometimes we were lost to the point of being disinterested in the story because of some aimless dialogues that were far too long. Even though we appreciate the humour that is present throughout the story, you have to know how to dose it.

A story about friendship or a murder mystery?

The film is carried by its characters more than by the plot, not surprising with such a cast, we particularly appreciate the trio Christian Bale, John David Washington and Margot Robbie, and the story of their friendship which is at the centre of the film mixed with the investigation. The highlight of the film is undoubtedly the flashback to when they met and began their friendship in Amsterdam. However, it is hard to know if the aim of the film was to highlight this tale of unconditional love between the three friends, or to immerse us in this pre-war investigation against the rise of fascism. Personally, I was more touched by the story of friendship than the investigation, but 3/4 of the film still revolves around the investigation… So I wonder about the director’s intentions.

Some artistic choices that we appreciate

If I remain disappointed with the film, not everything is to be thrown away. The sets and costumes are very well done, there is a very marked directional style which makes the film almost absurd and lighter, appreciable with a lot of touch of humour, notably via dialogues which are sometimes completely ridiculous and meaningless. But it could have been dosed in smaller doses, because I got lost several times, to the point that I gave up on following the investigation that is normally the basis of the story. And if the ending should have been shocking, well, at this point I just wanted the film to end. The film is really carried by its cast with very intelligent choices of shots and cameras movements to introduce big heads after big heads as the story progresses. But apart from that, we won’t be left impressed by this film.

So for us it’s a three star film with a five star cast.