‘The Laundromat’ Review: Steven Soderbergh Delivers an Uneven but Undeniably Ambitious Slice of Modern History [TIFF]

/Film | 9/16/2019 | Marshall Shaffer
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It’s not exactly clear why there’s been such a boomlet in explanatory, often didactic, films about recent history. It can’t be merely a reaction to the anti-intellectualism of Trump because films like The Big Short predated his rise. Perhaps it’s a response to our information-saturated culture and a need to cut through the volume of digital noise. Whether it’s trusting the audience too much that they want to know how complex systems work, sensing that they might tune out unless it’s laid out clearly, or cynically doubting they won’t understand without a spoon-fed explanation, these films all share an urge to inform and not just entertain. It’s impossible to deny that Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, an instructive explainer on the Panama Papers leak of 2016, is a product of this moment in cinema.

Then again, the trailblazing filmmaker of the modern independent film movement has always been making films like this. The dark side of the economy. People who suffer from the malfeasance of the elite class. A tendency to challenge and provoke viewers with bizarre tangents and asides. Telling us, then showing us. The Laundromat is also very much vintage Soderbergh for people who know the catalogue deeper than the Oceans series.

Less - Work - Props - Netflix - Something

Like much of his less commercial work (props to Netflix for bankrolling something so shape-shifting and bizarre), The Laundromat proves a slippery work to pin down. It’s all built on the backbone of Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as Mossack and Fonseca, two lawyers caught at the center of the scandal that exposed a sophisticated worldwide network of money laundering. They’re hammy and self-aware guides to the racket, offering valuable insights into the enterprise and self-pitying remarks within the same beat.

The Laundromat begins with them smugly declaring that the film represents their moment to reclaim the microphone. It’s striking...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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