Maybe The Laundromat is a story that needed to be told, but it would have benefited from being just that bit more engaging

Please can someone tell Gary Oldman to stop shouting. You won your oscar for Best Shouter, now stop, and calm down. The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh’s latest hit in the world of sending messages signposted 16 turns early, is the piece everyone needed explaining The Panama Papers, but it also comes as the piece no one needed as it explains them as if they were helping the elderly learn the rules to Settlers of Catan. It’s important, but there is absolutely no need to shout.

Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) loses her husband in a boating accident off the coast of New York. Expecting an enormous payout, Ellen is cut out when it becomes apparent the boating company didn’t have sufficient insurance. Now stuck in a loop hole related to The Panama Papers scandal, Ellen’s life is on the cusp of blowing up.

The Laundromat’s major downfall is absolutely its narrative. Opting to act as if all viewers know nothing, Soderbergh has taken The Big Short approach, frequently breaking the fourth wall. Yet here, its told by the characters involved, and that’s different. It suggests that what they are saying can be taken against. A non-entity, unrelated to the rest of the film, is often the best type of narrator. But, The Laundromat doesn’t have that. With Oldman and Banderas’ characters on the dodgy side of affairs by the film’s end, it’s very easy to take against what they are saying. 

Aside from this, the piece plods along with no major shocks and some fairly standard drama. Think of it more as an extended Panama Papers infomercial, rather than anything more creative. The Laundromat’s lack of imagination absolutely hampers it through almost the entire piece. 

It doesn’t use its star cast in a fancy or useful way, and too often does it find itself bogged down in standardisation. Maybe The Laundromat is a story that needed to be told, but it would have benefited from being just that bit more engaging, and absolutely needed a spark of creativity, stopping it from becoming the drag it starts becoming from an all too early stage.

2/5

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