What is it that causes a new movie release to be considered a definitive cinematic event? In some cases, all it really involves is a collaboration between one of the industry’s most acclaimed filmmakers and a relatively large ensemble of actors who are as instantly recognizable as they are extraordinarily talented. By that logic, AMSTERDAM is a big enough event to rival the OscarsⓇ itself.
Five-time Academy AwardⓇ nominee David O. Russell has written and directed a captivating period drama that employs an unbelievable cast including Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie and many, many more. However, its intriguing, historically relevant plot and star-studded ensemble are only a couple reasons why AMSTERDAM has been selected as an AMC Artisan Film. As we await its release to AMC Theatres on Friday, October 7th, let’s go over all the details that make it such a special occasion.
Unites An Acclaimed Cast
A wonderfully quirky Christian Bale, an appropriately straight-laced John David Washington and an irresistibly whimsical Margot Robbie lead the AMSTERDAM cast as an estranged trio reunited over distressing circumstances involving murder and political conspiracy in 1933. Aiding them in their struggles are Mike Myers – as a character similar to his brief INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS role – and his American associate, played by Michael Shannon, as well as Zoe Saldaña’s good-hearted morgue nurse, an outspoken war veteran played by Chris Rock and the great Robert De Niro as a highly respected U.S. general.
Those who are not quite making things much easier for our protagonists include Timothy Olyphant – more on his role later – Rami Malek as the well-to-do brother of Robbie’s character and Anya Taylor-Joy as his overbearing wife. Andrea Riseborough also appears as the estranged wife of Bale’s character alongside Matthias Schoenaerts and Alessandro Nivola as a pair of detectives investigating a crime Bale and Washington are accused of. Every member of this stellar ensemble is at the top of their game in AMSTERDAM, while some especially stand out for defying what is usually expected of them.
Stretches Actors Outside Their Comfort Zones
One cast member we did not mention above, but one who appears in an otherwise very important role in AMSTERDAM, is Taylor Swift. The Grammy-winning musician added acting to her list of talents more than a decade ago – first on a 2009 episode of “CSI” before making her film debut with VALENTINE’S DAY in 2010 – but she gives, easily, her strongest performance yet as a distressed and desperate socialite.
Also sure to surprise audiences with his performance in AMSTERDAM is Timothy Olyphant who is nearly unrecognizable and, while he has played villains before, has never been so menacing. Meanwhile, Zoe Saldaña – known best for kicking intergalactic butt in the MCU and the AVATAR movies – shines in one of her more reserved, quietly powerful yet still radiant roles and Andrea Riseborough – who has delivered traumatic performances in the likes MANDY and POSSESSOR – does not earn your sympathies here, but does earn your laughter in one of her funniest performances yet.
Brings A Unique Vision And Perspective
As it involves murder and the uncovering of a malicious plot as the investigation into the inciting crime escalates in intesnity, the story of AMSTERDAM is very much inspired by classic mystery movies of the cinema’s golden age. However, what it does differently – and to such invigorating effect – is combine its traditionally dark themes and story elements with an optimistically bright tone and aesthetic throughout that could be described as “light noir.”
This refreshingly unique blend lends grandly to the film’s heavily fictionalized and pervasively witty dramatization of historical fact. The film’s opening caption claims “A lot of this actually happened,” and while it is usually easy to distinguish what is fact from what is fiction, all the details of the story – without giving too much away – are still genuinely believable and can appeal to modern audiences in how easily they compare to more recent topical events.
Pushes Boundaries And Sparks Conversation
Despite its prevalently lighter moments and overall tone, AMSTERDAM is certainly not without its more serious moments that can be graphic in nature and are, undoubtedly, what earned the film its R rating. For instance, a sequence taking place during World War I at a Belgian hospital filled with injured soldiers – also where the central trio first met – might be a little too realistic and disturbing for some viewers to stomach.
The film also boasts some heartbreakingly honest and timely depictions of racial privilege and disharmony from the WWI era. In a plot point based on fact, John David Washington and Chris Rock’s characters, along with other Black soldiers, are forced to wear French Army uniforms to disassociate themselves from their white comrades. AMSTERDAM also takes a few unique and still thought-provoking stands on the state of war at the time, particularly in how Margot Robbie’s character “makes something beautiful” out of something destructive by crafting bizarre art pieces with bullets extracted from injured soldiers.
Features A Compelling Score
The wonderfully light and calming tone that permeates nearly every frame of AMSTERDAM can also be credited in part to the music by Daniel Pemberton. The versatile, UK-based musician – who received an Oscar nomination for co-writing the song “Hear My Voice” from THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – composes a gorgeous, captivating score that reflects the time setting with stunning accuracy and blends into the action of the story with equally grand harmony.
Additionally, music plays an important role in the story itself. Our three main leads begin their friendship, and launch a pact to keep each other safe no matter what, after creating a nonsense song with French phrases randomly pulled from a hat. However, this goofy tune ends up having more meaning than they initially envisioned later on.
There are more than enough eye-popping surprises to witness throughout AMSTERDAM. However, it is not so surprising to see such a talented filmmaker craft such an electrifying story featuring such wonderful performances by a brilliant cast like this. Thus, it is not much of a surprise that it qualifies as an AMC Artisan Film either.