"Amsterdam" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
David O. Russell has a very impressive filmography up to this date, with movies like "American Hustle" and "Silver Linings Playbook" to add to his resume. His films usually revolve around corruption or people trying to become rich and powerful, but every once in a while he makes a film that is so heartfelt and concerns love and admiration for other humans. His newest film, "Amsterdam", is no exception, which shows the lifelong friendship between three unlikely friends, documenting their experiences together and how far they have come. What Russell delivers is a beautiful and heartfelt film about the importance of friendship and having people you love in your life.
Those three friends are Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale), Valerie Voze (Margot Robbie), and Harold Woodman (John David Washington), who all met unexpectedly in the First World War. From there, they then move to Amsterdam together, living out a blissful and joyous time together that they each agree was the best time of their lives.
When they decide to go their separate ways, it is 15 years until their paths cross again. Now as a doctor and a lawyer, Burt and Harold, respectively, are accused of a murder that they did not commit. Now on the path to clear their names, they encounter Valerie once again, and they all team up to clear all accusations against them. However, there seems to be more dark and evil forces at work that our three protagonists weren't expecting at all.
This movie is, without a doubt, one of Russel's most lighthearted and fun films. His other movies are more dark and focus on the more shady and dark side of the human nature. "Amsterdam", however, is more concerned with showing the love and light in this friendship, and how they never leave or forgot each other throughout all of the years they have been apart. It's joyous at many times, even during its darkest moments. The movie keeps that tone throughout the entire runtime, and it never deviates from what the picture is at its core.
The plot moves forward at a very fast and bubbly pace, showing the love and admiration between the three leads on the screen. It never lags or lingers, and takes its time in perfectly crafting this plot and introducing all these wonderful characters found in the picture. I was a little worried about the movie having too many characters and a too convoluted plot, but Russell was able to perfectly capture everything he wanted to in such a fashion that it doesn't seem overwhelming or too much.
The three main actors are incredible in their roles. They totally embody the character they are playing, and when watching this movie, you don't see Bale or Robbie or Washington, but rather see Burt, Valerie, and Harold on the screen. It completely brings the viewer into the film, and keeps them there until the end of the movie. In addition to these fantastic actors, it also contains great performances from Anya-Taylor Joy, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, and the great Robert De Niro, in addition to many more that weren't listed here.
One thing I loved about this movie immensely is the musical score by Daniel Pemberton. I attended a press screening for this movie that included a Q&A with Russell, Bale, Malek, and Robbie, and Russell took a little time to talk about the score and he said it is possibly one of the best scores in his entire filmography. I completely agree, as this movie totally captures everything about this movie and what is great about it. The score is very bubbly and lovely, giving a friendship and adventure type of vibe to the score. It reminds me of the score from the Disney film, "Up", which is based around exploration and adventure.
Some of Russell's movies may be more acclaimed and beloved than this movie, but I think this was a fantastic and fun murder mystery that keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat throughout. This is perhaps the most easily digestible Russell film, and is just a feel-good movie that should make anyone appreciate and love their friendships and relationships a little bit more.