Starring: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer
In 2015, we had The Big Short, and for some reason, in 2019 we now have The Laundromat. The same suspects cannot be held responsible, but both comedy-dramas explaining major financial upsets to an audience through cartoonish straight-to-camera monologues feel like annoyingly good-looking cousins.
Where Adam McKay’s Oscar-winning picture about the 2008 financial crash used Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt – with one particular cameo from Margot Robbie – as thereal-life culprits to tell the story, Steven Soderbergh writes a drama around Meryl Streep as a fictional holidayer Ellen Martin, to decry the crimes around the Panama Papers, led by Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the lawyers at the helm of shady offshore dealings.
The two lawyers are played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, who chat to the audience as if they’re floating cartoons with no real aim but to entertain. This feeling plagues a lot of the film, which aims to explain the logistical happenings in lighthearted tones, more often confusing facts than debunking them.
Streep is at the centre as Ellen (and has fun with another cameo, if you can spot it) but seems to follow more than she leads. The story is tugged in all directions, involving another wealthy and disloyal family too, as well as the central investigation. For such a knotty, worldwide scandal, it makes sense – but in terms of crystallising this cacophony of lies, it often feels like Soderbergh prefers to be swept up in it than to slow down.
It’s an eye-opening expose in some instances, for viewers who might have been entirely in the dark about the whole affair. There’s charisma in performances from Oldman, Banderas and Streep – as is to be expected – and there’s a sober audacity from Soderbergh to look the criminals in the eye by the end to signal their time in the shadows is up.
But for those who know the broad strokes of the events, who are familiar with the potential of both the director and his eyewatering cast – The Laundromat often feels like the tip of a very big, very solid, very rich iceberg.
|What||The Laundromat review|
18 Oct 19 – 18 Oct 20, COMING SOON TO NETFLIX
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|