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Amsterdam (2022)

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David Russell has made some truly wonderful pictures in the past and some may argue that this is the primary reason for the existence of Amsterdam. Without such a stellar catalogue, it is highly unlikely the project would have got off the ground and even less chance that such luminaries of the industry would become involved in something that has proved polarising for many.

Many peers have lambasted the project without going into too much detail with regard to the reasons for their seemingly incandescent ire, choosing what amounts to a sad/angry emoji as evidence for their opinion. As you may or may not be aware, this carries little or no weight in these parts.

Amsterdam is not easy, nor does it claim to be. It's complicated enough for it to remain valid and it doesn't pander to or patronise its audience. This approach rears its head regularly, not least in the scene where Myers and Shannon explain the cuckoo and its inability to make its own nest and the amount it ceases to be worried about it, in response to a comment that Bale's Berendsen asking why this is in any way interesting, as if Russell has anticipated the criticism before it arrived, or perhaps had been accused of something similar during production.

"Ornithology forces you to decide what you are looking at."

The performances by mostly Bale, Riseborough and Robbie are indeed great, but honestly, nobody (and I include Taylor Swift's brief appearance) does a truly bad job. It's set in the 1930's, but whilst the statement about the amount of truth involved at the outset is largely irrelevant, it does allow for some finer details to be left a little hazy. The pacing is at best what I can describe as challenging and the script has a habit of only giving you two-thirds of what you feel you need to get a grasp on a deliberately slippery story.

Overall, this is an engaging tale, delivered as well as you might expect by Russell. As many have said, it isn't any more relevant than any story we're told via a big or small screen, but it is no worse for that fact. It may not sit well with some viewers' sensibilities or, sadly, their comprehension.


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