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The Laundromat ★★★



Director: Steven Soderbergh

 Starring: Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman

Released: Venice Film Festival 2019

Steven Soderbergh is currently enjoying his directorial retirement by making more movies. Since his shift to Netflix this year with High Flying Birds, Soderbergh is now unscrambling The Panama Papers. A scandalous leak capsized corporate embezzlement and tax fraud back in 2015.

The Laundromat unfolds when Ellen Martin’s (Meryl Streep) tranquil trip takes an unlikely turn. Martin begins investigating a fake insurance policy, only to find herself down a rabbit hole of questionable dealings that can be linked to a Panama City law firm. The charming—and very well-dressed—founding partners Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas) are experts in the seductive ways shell companies and offshore accounts help the rich and powerful prosper. They are about to show us that Ellen’s predicament only hints at the tax evasion, bribery and other illicit absurdities that the super-wealthy indulges in supporting the world’s corrupt financial system.

The Laundromat is a satirical socio-political comedy that only Soderbergh could master—zooming through a medley of comical diversions in Mexico, Africa, China and the Caribbean. Our narrators Mossack & Fonseca, give us their confessions, demonstrating how they became greedy and how they helped criminals benefit from their web of lies. Each step to succeeding in fraud is explained in the simplest of ways and become more apparent for general audiences.

The film is divided into an anthology, very similar to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Each story reveals the immense number of fraudsters were benefiting from Mossack & Fonseca. Like most anthologies, some stories are stronger than others. Soderbergh’s story does lag at times, and scenarios can become disinteresting, but the satirical humour of The Laundromat drives it forward to the end.

Oldman and Banderas are a comedy duo that could give Ant & Dec a run for their money. The chemistry between them is exuberant, witty and informative. Soderbergh placed Mossack & Fonseca in some fascinating settings and dressed to the nines in fabulous couture. The opening scene is a seamless one cut set during the dawn of man; they give the audience the history of money from the humble beginnings of bartering. At the same time, sipping on their martinis while wearing dinner jackets.

Soderbergh and his cast display the grandiose of these men and the extent of their wealth.  It sets the tone of Soderbergh’s fourth-wall-breaking caper. Uniting this brand-new double act and bringing Meryl Streep into the fold is the ace in the hole. Ellen Martin represents us! She has lived an honest life and has done no wrong. Her story in The Laundromat’s global spread shows the wealthy taking advantage of the commoners. Streep’s closing monologue may feel like a presidential commercial, but it lights a spark. We don’t have to be corrupted by the elite, and Soderbergh ignites a stop to exploitation and greed.

While Soderbergh’s latest isn’t a larger think piece that you’d expect. It does reveal more of one of the largest scandals of the 21st century. It may not leave you in a fit of rage but, it warns us that this won’t be the last financial scandal in our lifetime.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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