Netflix original film in review: “Laundromat”


Madeline Peterson, Film Reviewer

The Netflix original film, “Laundromat” directed by Steven Soderbergh, tells the story about a very complicated topic. The film uses true events about the Panama Papers using an A-list cast.

The Panama Papers were leaked data from a whistle blower to a German paper about wealthy individuals and how they got their money using the Mossack Fonseca insurance firm.

After watching this film, I still didn’t entirely know what actually happened as there were too many players and parts that didn’t seem to connect.

This film played off what “The Big Short,” directed by Adam McKay, did with talking about a heavy and complicated topic and making it easier to follow with breaking the fourth wall and using narrators. Unlike “The Big Short,” this film stayed lighthearted throughout and had the narrators as the crooks played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas.

This film played out like an anthology. The film starts by following Ellen Martin, played by Meryl Streep, who was an older innocent woman just trying to get her insurance claim. There are scenes that explain one part of this complicated scheme such as money laundering, with a totally different cast that are unrelated to Ellen’s story.

Even though Ellen loses her husband in the first five minutes, it goes so fast that the audience doesn’t have enough time to process what happened. It felt as if her husband was just a prop to the story because after she finds out something is wrong, the investigation takes over, and she eventually does it for the money and not to honor her husband.

This film has an extravagant set design from disco lit bars and blue colored waters. However, the topic is so bleak that it makes everything seem fake. This does make the audience interested in what is talked about, but it is done in such a way that it doesn’t seem real.

What this film does nicely is the narrative scenes with Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman. It was interesting to hear the perspective of the people responsible for the corruption and have them explain why they did what they did. They dressed professionally and broke the fourth wall as if they were not a part of the film though they were.

If the narrators of the film were actually the bad guys, maybe the audience would have sympathy for them. If this was what the director wanted and he was spot on. However, I’m not sure that was a great idea. If the director wanted to show a horrible course of events and highlight how horrible it was, this was not the right approach.

I am giving this film a 2/5. The film was interesting to watch because of the elaborate set and A-list actors. However, the film was hard to follow even with the explanation of what was going on. The lightheartedness shown made the situation fake and unrealistic.