THE LAUNDROMAT – A Review by Cynthia Flores
It’s been a while since Steven Soderbergh has made a movie that made me go “wow”. Well, his new film for Netflix called The Laundromat has just done that. It’s based on real events and is a very layered and at times complicated story. At the center of it is Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep). She is a happy Midwesterner on an idyllic vacation with her husband Joe (James Cromwell). They are celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary by taking a guided boat tour of Niagara Falls with their friends. Well, when the unthinkable happens and the boat is involved in a freak accident she loses her beloved husband and her best friend. This is when we find out about the fake insurance policy that the boat owner Captain Perry (Robert Patrick) unwittingly owned. Ellen finds herself going down a rabbit hole of questionable dealings that can be linked to a Panama City law firm called Mossack Fonseca and its vested interest in helping the world’s wealthiest citizens amass even larger fortunes.
The founding partners of the firm are charming, well-dressed, and don’t really care about how dirty their business actually is. You have Jurgen Mossack (Gary Oldman), a stylish man of German descent whose father brought the family to Panama at the end of World War II (think Nazi). And Ramon Fonseca (Antonio Banderas), a self-made man who decided it was better to be rich than to make the world a better place. They’re experts in the seductive ways shell companies and offshore accounts help the rich and powerful to prosper. They’re about to show us that Ellen’s predicament only hints at the tax evasion, bribery, and other illicit absurdities that the super-wealthy indulge in supporting the world’s corrupt financial system.
I know this sounds dull talking about taxes and shell companies but The Laundromat is anything but. This film reminds me of 2015’s Oscar-winning film The Big Short directed by Adam McKay. They both have stories that take dry, complicated laws and financial facts and boils them down so the average person can understand them. What I think Soderbergh does better with The Laundromat is that it is “laugh out loud funny” in its approach. When Ramon and Jurgen are explaining how the financial world works they do it with humor as well as facts.
This film zips through a kaleidoscope of comic examples of corruption in China, Mexico, Africa (Via Los Angeles), and the Caribbean en route to the very real 2016’s Panama Papers publication. That is where journalists revealed the secret, leaked documents of Mossack Fonseca’s high-profile patrons and their shell games. Bringing down Ramon and Jurgen’s company.
I give The Laundromat an A rating. This all-star, incendiary and funny film is a must-see this season.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Scott Z. Burns
Running Time 1hr 35min
Drama / Comedy
Limited Release Oct 11th Landmark Magnolia then on Netflix
Starring: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Melissa Rauch, David Schwimmer
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.