This film snuck up on me as there had not been a lot of advertising for the film prior to its upcoming release. The trailer boasted a period piece murder mystery with an all-star cast lineup. But I never expected what the story really was about going in. First, let’s check out the synopsis and trailer below, and then on to our review.
Acclaimed filmmaker David O. Russell brings “Amsterdam,” an original crime epic about three close friends who find themselves at the center of one of the most shocking secret plots in American history. A fascinating and richly intricate tale that brilliantly weaves historical fact with fiction for a timely, cinematic experience, the film stars Academy Award® winner Christian Bale, two-time Oscar® nominee Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Alessandro Nivola, Andrea Riseborough, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Zoe Saldaña, with Oscar winner Rami Malek and two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro.
With an all-star cast like Bale, Robbie, Washington and so many more I had high expectations for the story going into the film. Set in the early 1930’s the story follows a doctor (Bale), a nurse (Robbie), and a lawyer (Washington) as they attempt to uncover the truth behind the death of a US Senator and former commander of their regiment. Margot Robbie is on a roll with a massive number of films coming out this fall starring Robbie.
Throughout the film, there are characters whose dialog comes across as very wooden and almost as if they are simply reading a prompter behind the camera emotionlessly. At first, I thought it was just the one actor (the said regiment leader whose death they are investigating during a flashback) but then we see it repeated with other characters. Clearly, it was the director’s decision to incorporate that style into the film. However, we never really understand the reason or see a payoff for it. In the end, it makes for unusual and awkward moments.
The set design and costuming for the film are very well done and even without the larger plot that it’s trying to tell, the film stands up well as a who dunit crime drama. Understanding that the film is a fictionalization of a factual event in American history makes this even more astounding when you walk out of the theatre. In the end, the wooden dialog choices distract from an otherwise intriguing and engrossing plot that threatened to forever change America.
Amsterdam hits theatres this Friday October 7th.