The Laundromat

Tagline : Based on actual secrets

Runtime : 96 mins

Genre : Drama Crime Comedy

Vote Rating : 6/10


Movie Website

Plot : When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen 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 and its vested interest in helping the world's wealthiest citizens amass larger fortunes.

Cast Members

Reviews

Remember the Panama Papers? Those leaked documents that detailed how various people and companies created off-shore shell companies in order to avoid paying billions if not trillions in taxes around the world? No? I’m not surprised. It was a huge story that seemed to become a flash in the pan and many people forgot about it after the coverage dried up because, very likely, the corporations that run the news media tried to bury it. But these folks didn’t forget. The film’s title refers to the whole operation as generally being a money laundering scheme. Featuring an ensemble cast of Hollywood who’s who as well as who’s that, this Steven Soderbergh film invariably draws comparisons to Adam McKay’s “The Big Short,” both in subject matter and style. The narrators, played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, frequently address the camera directly. Usually, this has the effect of making the audience feel like they’re in on the scheme, but it’s not as effective as when it was used in, say, “House of Cards.” Why? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it likely has to do with the complexity of the scheme. Their characters are more than just narrators, but are actual players in the overall story, lawyers who created the paperwork and did the legwork to get these schemes off the ground. As such, they actually try to explain it, both simplified and with a certain complexity that leaves one a little unsure of the truth. Maybe that was the idea, but from a storytelling perspective, it didn’t quite work. And effect is part of the problem with this film. Aside from being done as a comedy for what is in fact a very serious subject (the reporter who exposed this story was later killed by a car bomb), this film doesn’t feel very effective in conveying outrage. In fact, it feels less like outrage and more like being impotently miffed. The film doesn’t feel like it conveys the gravity of the situation. Which is very disappointing given the talent involved and the chance to really bring this subject back into the public eye. While I have to give the filmmakers credit with trying to make the complex money laundering scheme in the Panama Papers digestible to a general audience and keeping this visible, ultimately it feels like it’s too little too late.

I didn't enjoy this at all, yet I still weirdly reflect on it to be better than it had any right to be. That's thanks to the cast of 'The Laundromat'. Meryl Streep (Ellen), Gary Oldman (Mossack) and Antonio Banderas (Fonseca) are the main reasons I'm not rating this lower. They stop it becoming an annoying watch. You also have Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer and Nonso Anozie involved too - as well as even Sharon Stone and James Cromwell. I just didn't like the way they chose to portray everything, I appreciate what they went for but it simply didn't work for me. It's definitely one of those things, though, that will depend on the viewer - I'm sure many will find it good. The comedy is extremely lacking, in accordance to my tastes anyway. Also, even though I praised Oldman and Banderas themselves, I found their characters particularly irritating - same goes with the ending. Feels like it merits an inferior score and yet... A charitable 5*.

This had the potential to be an eye-opening opportunity to bring to the fore all the devious antics and off-shore activities carried out by people from all nations - but recently publicised by the Mossack-Fonseca revelations. Instead, it delivered a largely pedestrian investi-journo kind of piece that traded heavily on the names of it's three stars and very little on any meaningful substance. The two-handers between Messrs. Oldman and Banderas are witty and focused, but captured against the banality of the rest of the film merely serve to illustrate why sheep have a shepherd. Meryl Streep is, I think, going for the Dame Judi Dench "how little screen-time can I get away with whilst still getting top billing award". What an open goal; what a miss....!

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