Amsterdam is intriguing, but far from perfect

Amsterdam is a murder-mystery comedy movie about a series of hapless events that follow a group of three friends as they uncover an underground political scheme in the years following WWI.

Although technically a mystery movie, Amsterdam better explores the theme of lifelong friendship and the concept of chosen family. The companionship of the three main characters, veterans Burt Berendsen and Harold Woodsman, along with former nurse Valerie Voze, is the true focus of the film. We get to see the beginnings, highpoints and hardships of their friendship as their undying love and loyalty ceases to falter during the course of the movie. 

Cinematically, Amsterdam is a beautiful movie. From the set design to the lighting and costumes, every shot is very pleasing to the eye. It does a wonderful job at capturing the audience in its 1919-1933 setting while adding modern whimsy to create a unique atmosphere. The cinematography does an excellent job at manipulating the audience’s mood by combining all these aspects and making obvious tone shifts from scene to scene. The contrast between scenes — heartfelt comedy, discomfort, or suspicion — are amplified by the move from warm, maximalist scenery to cool-toned minimalist decor. 

The comedic aspects feel a bit clunky at times, and the pacing of the movie as a whole likewise felt somewhat ungraceful. This awkwardness made the film drag on at certain points, though at other times suddenly flooded with suspense and curiosity. Yet, the overall gawkiness ended up fitting in with the rest of the movie’s oddness and quirks. 

Overall, Amsterdam is far from perfect, and at times lacks a quick enough pace to hold onto the audience. But, it nonetheless, possesses a special charm and fine acting that leaves an overall contentment when exiting the theater. I would ultimately rate Amsterdam 4/5 stars.