Entertainment Movie Reviews 27 Oct 2019 The Laundromat (Net ...

The Laundromat (Netflix) movie review: A savage satire!

Published Oct 27, 2019, 12:08 am IST
Updated Oct 27, 2019, 12:08 am IST
The Laundromat is a whimsical film on global money-laundering and gives you fresh insights into this world.
Meryl Streep in a scene from the film
 Meryl Streep in a scene from the film

Starring: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman,  Antonio Banderas.

Directed:  by Steven  Soderberg


To really understand  this  clever sassy  robust  film you  must understand money. With almost zilch knowledge  of how it works I could still sense a deep sense of mirthless laughter in  the way the king of quirky  direction  Steven Soderberg (check out his oddball  oeuvre,  from his directorial debut Sex Lies  & Videotape  to his last  Unsane) plays  around with the grim reality of global money laundering.

 In  that  joyless laughter that this cleverer-than-you-think  film there is  a message. Using  the  financial resources  of  the middleclass to  make the rich, richer,  is not a  laughing matter. But,  what can we  do about it in a  world that  functions on  inequality and  injustice?


Soderberg’s  whimsical film on global money laundering could leave  you confused about which side it is talking from. But then you realise  which side this film is really on. It pitches its  tone of savagely satirised  rebuke  against  financial hoaxes at us, the gullible  public which  surrenders  its lifetime’s resources  to institutions  which, we hope against  hope, will  make  good use  of  our savings.

What happens when  these  institutions let  us down? The Laundromat creates a sense of absurd  dread  about  those who  play around with public wealth. It  explores  the  extremely  complicated process  of money laundering by breaking it down into  episodes  of  tragic hilarity where we at once see characters  with all their fancy  flamboyance and  frightening frailties.


 Lording  over  the vast cast  of  incredible actors  is the supreme Meryl Streep who, as usual, sweeps us into the  deepest  consciousness of her character’s  soul digging out personal and inter-personal  truth about the quality  of life the  working class lives  as opposed to the  rich who are portrayed as  ridiculous in  their  self absorbed  ruthlessness.

 There are two very  engrossing, very twisted episodes  in the  eccentric narration, one involving a black tycoon with  fraudulent  money who tries to bribe his daughter  into  keeping mum (pun intended) about his extra-marital fling, and another  where a ruthless Chinese entrepreneur (Rosalind Chao) tries to browbeat  an American financier  into legitimising her scam and then snuffs him off.


The  blend of the sinister and  comic  with a bit of the bizarre thrown in  for good measure is typically Soderbergish. His arching  penchant  for quirky social comment is nowhere  more evident than in his  choice of narrators, a couple  of master-launderers  played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas  who serve  to distance  the  film’s characters  from us while plunging  them  (the  characters) into  a  game  of  manipulation and fraudulence that  boggles the mind.


At  the vortex  of this game  of vicious  deception is Streep’s  character  of  the bereaved  widow  who reminds us that  the meek are far from  inheriting  the earth, as promised. In  the meanwhile there is  the  next global scam, hopefully as  prone  to  an engaging film as  this one.

And yes,  perhaps  after watching this film you may want  to  visit the  Panamas, and you may  never want to  take  a ferry ride again.