The film “Amsterdam” (2022) is a comedy crime drama filmed in the historical postmodern genre. Director and screenwriter David O. Russell’s work during the filmmaking phase was named among the possible favorites for the 2023 Oscars awards season. However, at the worldwide box office, Amsterdam failed miserably, receiving very low ratings.
The plot of the film “Amsterdam”
World War I participant Bert Berendsen came from the front, scarred from wounds, without one eye. In his native New York, the poor skinny cripple was “out of work.” He runs a small clinic where he tries to help those who have returned from the war by using experimental drugs. The former military doctor is approached with an unusual request by lawyer Harold Woodman, his friend and colleague. It is necessary to secretly conduct an autopsy on an old man who died suddenly, a former senior rank from their regiment. Retired military daughter Liz suspects he was poisoned. The day before, Bill Meekins had come from Europe to give a speech at a meeting of fellow soldiers.
Friends begin an investigation with the participation of the third member of the team. This is charming Velerie – a rich woman, an artist and a former nurse from a French hospital. After the war, having recovered from their wounds, Bert and Harold went to the bohemian Amsterdam, where, together with the fatal beauty, they had a fun rest. The memory of that time still warms their hearts.
The trio of heroes quickly become convinced that the CIA, MI6 and the secret organization “Committee of Five” are involved in the case. Following Meekins, his daughter dies. Former co-workers are being chased by men in black, and police are looking for friends on charges of a murder they didn’t commit.
What is the meaning of the movie “Amsterdam”
The name of the capital of a European state included in the title is just a symbol, and the film narrative itself is about the United States on the eve of World War II. The plot of “Amsterdam” revolves around preventing a national conspiracy to establish a fascist dictatorship in America. At first glance, the meaning of the film is explained by the reference of the creators to the historical source: the 1933 political conspiracy against US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Then the retired general Smeldy D. Butler publicly spoke out with the exposure of the “powerful of this world”.
However, screenwriter/director David O. Russell’s idea that fascism was the product of American bankers and industrialists is not the key. The viewer has no reason to think: how the course of history could change if, by analogy with Germany and Italy, the US government was headed by its own Hitler or Mussolini. In addition, in a film with a double murder, the detective component is relegated to the background.
From the first shots, the nuances of the relationship of bosom friends – Bert, Harold and Velerie get into the center of the audience’s attention. Periodically, flashbacks of their parties in the democratic capital of the Netherlands pop up, banal rantings are heard either about art or about birds. Their friendship and loyalty to each other is laced with romance, mystery and noir.
It is worth taking into account that the creators of the film “Amsterdam” treat historical facts very freely. At the same time, the reality in the film turns out to be richer and deeper than fiction. It was more important for the author to say that history repeats itself, and our life is an eternal struggle in which only mercy and love for one’s neighbor can resist evil.
The ending of the film connects all the plot threads
In the last 20 minutes of screen time, all participants in the story find themselves in the same place. Thus, three main storylines of the film are closed:
- With the help of retired General Gil Dillenbeck, the protagonists thwart the plans of the “Committee of Five” conspirators, which included Velery’s brother Tom Vose. Old warrior Gil is speaking at a veterans’ meeting with a different speech than the leadership prepared for him. He openly says everything he knew and wanted to say.
- A trio of detective friends investigate the reason Bill Meakins was killed. When the senator’s car hit someone, he was in the car. Meekins was eliminated because he was going to reveal the plans of the conspirators at a meeting of Bert and Harold’s colleagues.
- It becomes clear why Libby and Tom treated Velery for several years when she did not need it at all. The secret organization of elite businessmen, among other things, financed sterilization clinics, maintaining the superiority and purity of the white race.
Important in the film “Amsterdam” – friendship without reservations
The key characters of the film were tightly connected by participation in the First World War and the freedom that they “breathed deeply” when they were together. Life in Amsterdam gave them the opportunity to be themselves, to free themselves from the oppression of social belonging and manifestations of systemic racism. How did he live before? Velerie led a bohemian lifestyle that her wealthy family frowned upon. Black Howard was repeatedly attacked by racists. For the fact that Bert has Jewish roots, he was ridiculed by the relatives of his wife Beatrice.
In the magical city of “sins, canals and flowers”, young people became close, enlisted the support of each other. The relationship between Bert, Howard and Velerie was built on absolute trust, and complete mutual understanding was born at a deep level. It is an unconditional friendship that no one can ever take away from them.
“Amsterdam” is primarily about how to find a balance between a seemingly boring and uninteresting life and a dream or memory of a place or time when we were (or could have been) happy. Don’t wait for the right moment. We must live for today, so as not to regret the years spent in vain in despondency. It is easy to deduce the general formula of the film’s author: victory over fascism = the superiority of empathy over indifference, the triumph of mercy over justice.