Very few Hollywood directors have the ability to make a movie to their liking with a hefty budget. David O. Russell is one of them, something understandable after the good performance of titles like ‘The bright side of things’ or ‘The great American scam’, but that could change after the box office collapse of ‘Amsterdam’.
After its disastrous premiere in the United States, it is estimated that ‘Amsterdam’ could cause losses of close to 100 million dollars for Disney. Little has mattered that it surely has the most spectacular cast of the year and that it is based on a striking true story, since both the public and critics have turned their backs on it. I for one wish the whole movie had been in the same code as Christian Bale ‘s performance , the best of the show by far.
It is not clear what you want
‘Amsterdam’ is a film in which a priori everything should row in the same direction, but when it comes down to it, it never ends up finding a clear tone to give the story it tells us. Sometimes it promises to be an ambitious drama, other times a suspenseful story, sometimes it bets on the eccentric and there are cases in which it seems that it does not want to be more than a luxury hobby. The result is a hodgepodge, and not one that is fascinating in its imperfection.
There I think that the one who best reads the intentions of the film is Bale , who at all times gives a marked touch of comic eccentricity to his character that fits very well with all the aspects that Russell addresses here. The curious thing is also that he then surely he is one of the most focused characters of the entire show, being part of his charm in that apparent contradiction.
The problems come with everything else, since it is true that the luxurious display of means is noticeable both to transport us to the 30s of the last century and so that both sets, costumes and photography are attractive to the viewer, but there comes a point where which almost feels like a contrivance to mask the lack of focus of the script written by Russell himself.
Too many hits
Not that such a surprise on his part, as I’ve never been a big fan of his cinema , but here it’s particularly apparent that he tries to lighten an important story in an unnecessarily messy way. There I have the question of whether it is the fault of the excess of characters or the excess of plots, but there comes a point where all that ‘Amsterdam’ has to offer is how beautiful it can look and the punctual occurrence that Bale contributes at that moment .
I can’t say that the rest of the cast does it badly, whether it’s for a small appearance like Taylor Swift ‘s or for leading roles like Margot Robbie and John David Washington , but there’s always the feeling that they themselves don’t have the same quality. everything clear what the film asks of them -perhaps Robert De Niro is the exception, since his character has a very clear function-. We have a good example of this in the problem that Robbie’s character suffers and how sometimes they try to give him some comic nuances that end up being somewhat out of place.
In the end, the real problem lies with Russell, who here proposes a series of promising concepts only to later develop them in a disappointing way . Worst of all, though, it becomes exhausting at times, offering little sparks here and there but never being able to ignite the entertainment flame. Because in the end you can flirt with many things, but it is still a luxury hobby with more aspirations than it is capable of covering.
It’s not as bad as its debacle at the US box office may indicate, but that doesn’t mean that ‘Amsterdam‘ is the missed opportunity to offer the definitive approach to a curious and powerful true story. He had the talent in spades of his cast and a generous budget, but David O. Russell never seems quite clear on what he wants to achieve here.