Wednesday 7 June 2023

Movie Review: Amsterdam (2022)

Genre: Crime Dramedy
Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Robert De Niro
Running Time: 134 minutes

Synopsis: In New York City of 1933, lawyer Harold Woodman (John David Washington) and his wartime buddy doctor Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) help Elizabeth Meekins (Taylor Swift) identify her father's cause of death. Soon Harold and Burt are deemed murder suspects, and have to investigate the Meekens family background to clear their names. They are joined by Valerie (Margot Robbie), a nurse they had befriended in Amsterdam after the Great War. The trio's sleuthing leads to the wealthy Voz family and a nefarious plot to undermine America's democracy.

What Works Well: Loosely inspired by actual events including the Business Plot, Amsterdam boasts magnanimous set designs and a nostalgia-drenched sepia-toned aesthetic. Director and writer David O. Russell finds the best moments in an unlikely friendship between two veterans and the nurse who patched them both up.

What Does Not Work As Well: The lazy plot takes a long time to define itself and succumbs to endless opportunities for sideways drift. The pacing is cluttered with half-developed ideas and underdeveloped characters propped-up by over-narration. The running time is obese, and the cast members (with a recognizable face in almost every role) never shake the impression they are playing dress-up and about to wink at the camera.

Conclusion: Graceful visuals wasted on laborious storytelling.

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