2019 Film Reviews – 62: The Laundromat [dir. Steven Soderbergh; 2019]

What a curious little film. First, Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman appear – playing two lawyers at the centre of 2016’s Panama Papers scandal – and proceed to give us a direct-to-camera lesson in the development of the barter system and the creation of money. Then Meryl Streep pops up, trying to navigate the treacherous world of fake insurance policies following the death of her husband in a boating accident. And then all manner of other characters join in, doing their bit in standalone set pieces designed to reveal truths about bribery, fraud and dubiously legal tax-dodging schemes. It mostly works – when taken as a piece of ‘factucation’ – but it’s difficult to see who it’s for. Perhaps its presence on Netflix will allow it to reach a wide audience. But I wonder if those not already aware of the realities the movie seeks to expose will have any interest in sitting through its frequently convoluted and opaque exposition. Still, hats off to Soderbergh for making it.


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