Soderbergh's attempt to make a documentary material into a quirky narrative feature backfires as end result is bloated, weird mess that totally wastes an incredible cast.
“THE LAUNDROMAT” tells a story of one of the biggest offshore money laundering schemes based on famous Panama Papers scandal. Steven Soderbergh (the director and producer of this film) tried to do his best to turn this clearly documentary style film into presentable narrative feature, but, man, this film underdelivers.
It starts off nicely tho. Film is presented in a lively manner, interjecting narrative with explanations a-la manual on what are shell accounts, fake corporations and how rich people can avoid legally paying taxes. I was really intrigued by this. We dive into a story of a widow who tries to unravel the mystery behind non-payment of her dead husband’s insurance claim which takes her into a firm in Panama. Then suddenly plot shifts to China, with new characters coming and new story taking over the main plot. Then we go off somewhere else (I honestly can’t remember where) and new story pops out that has nothing to do with the previous two stories. And then suddenly it all finishes with a weird lecture on how USA has allowed this tax shelters to exist blah blah.
I was quite surprised that Soderbergh did take this project and for the first part “The Laundromat” it actually works well. There is a HUGE cast, with big names (do me a favor and look it up, it’s just a very long list of wasted talent) who keep appearing and disappearing almost instantaneously and suddenly I felt myself to be in the middle of sinking boat that doesn’t even know it is sinking. It was a very weird feeling, I’ll be totally honest.
I am not sure of artistic license behind the project. Maybe it did sound better on paper than making it into a regular documentary. Whatever was the reason, “The Laundromat” really disappoints with weird choices of Soderbergh. I consider him as one of the great visionaries of modern cinema, but this movie just sucks.