Movie Review: The Laundromat (2019)

The Laundromat: C+ (Now on Netflix)

The star-studded disaster movie genre born in the ‘70s has been replaced by all-star dramas focused on societal ills, with the likes of Crash, Babel, Requiem for a Dream, The Big Short and Traffic paving the way for a film about money laundering, bribery and corruption. Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat (C) tells an arch and sometimes absurdist anthology of stories about the flow of cash between real-life dirty rotten scoundrels and the trickle-down of treachery to some unwitting protagonists. While the director employs some fun flourishes in the form of whimsical narration, educational animation, breaking the fourth wall and three very different chapters of narrative, it doesn’t hang together with quite the impact he intended. The director fritters away the talents of Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright and Matthias Schoenaerts in arbitrary roles while giving the always sensational Meryl Streep the film’s most contoured character, a widow tracing the shell companies protecting those responsible for her husband’s death. Soderbergh doesn’t render his enterprise with quite the creativity or finesse required to make the movie and its themes as memorable as others in the modern muckraking tradition. It’s intriguing and ripped out of the headlines, but the film doesn’t quite capture the urgency of its own zeitgeist.

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