A juvenile comedy movie becomes an uneasy thriller and ends up as a dark drama
"Amsterdam" is a quite unusual but promising movie from Quebec. The film starts as a comedy flick. Three quite different childhood friends want to escape from their everyday lives. They tell their wives or girlfriends that they would go on a hunting trip in the forest but in fact, they take the plane to Amsterdam to have some fun together. They are drinking a lot and smoking a lot of weed as well. I'm not sure it's a good idea to show a car driver having a sip of vodka and adults and family fathers boozing around but it tells us a lot of contemporary French Canadian society.
The most revealing scene comes when the three actors go to the red light district. One characters passionately sleeps with a prostitute and can't get enough, another one wants to have fun but doesn't manage to because he has to think about his wife and the last one only gives the prostitute some money to make his friends think he is cool enough to go with her but in fact he doesn't even think about betraying his wife. The three friends are spying each other and their final decisions reveal a lot of what will happen next.
The only thing I might complain about is the stereotypical image of Amsterdam that gets underlined in this movie. I have been several times to Amsterdam and it's a beautiful and very cultivated city with a lot of great things to visit. The city is though only reduced to a place where people are boozing, taking drugs and sleeping with prostitutes. This view is quite naive and closed-minded; one could even say slightly racist.
Anyway, from this moment on, the movie gets an unusual turn. It becomes a suspenseful drama with a quite dark atmosphere. One of the three friends learns that his girlfriend is pregnant but instead of being happy, he gets scared and decides not to come home with his friends. A big argument kicks off but the desperate man doesn't change his mind. He wants to stay in Amsterdam for a few more days and his two friends return to their families.
Nobody has the guts to tell the truth. The two remaining friends are afraid they could lose everything they have and realize that they didn't really think of the consequences of their decisions before. They spin a web of lies and tell that their friend went out in the woods after an argument and didn't come back. Soon, the police and their families realize that the two men didn't tell the whole truth but due to a series of coincidences and stupid actions, nobody comes close to reveal the truth.
Their friend doesn't come back after few days and even not after a few weeks when the autumn goes by and Christmas arrives. The tragic events have changed the lives of the two remaining friends and everybody in the small village for the worse. It takes quite some time before a certain kind of routine is established again.
Then, their friend suddenly comes back home for Christmas. He secretly watches the people in the village and how his disappearance has changed a lot of things. He decides to not reveal that he is back until he decides to meet his girlfriend again. He reveals to her that he doesn't believe that he caused her pregnancy and is the father of her unborn child and both of them get into quite a big argument.
The viewers don't get to know what happens next until the two remaining friends get a message from their friend to meet in a cabin in the woods. Soon, all three shout at each other and their friendship is about to break completely apart. I don't want to reveal you the movie's twist but you probably won't see it coming and the film ends on a quite dark and intriguing note that leaves the viewers with a lot of food for thought.
The strongest point of the movie is its development from a comedy film over a thriller to an intense drama. Each part convinces due to a solid acting and captivating story line with a few surprises towards the end. This movie is almost to experimental to hit the cinemas but I'm glad it was released in the movie theatres of the province of Quebec.
The weaker parts are the stereotypical image of Amsterdam, a few lengths in the middle part of the film and a few little plot holes or unexplained events concerning credit cards, lazy police investigation and the disappearance of another person towards the end.
The positive aspects outnumber this movie's flaws and if the story is intriguing enough to you, there is no reason for you to not try your best to get your hands on a copy of this unusual and mostly intelligent movie.
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