Secrets wash through “The Laundromat”

The Laundromat (Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas) – In perhaps the most bizarre movie of the year, The Laundromat isn’t what you think.  It has nothing to do with a laundromat. It has to do with secrets.

When you look at the cast — Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas — as well as the director, Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies and Videotape, Erin Brockovich, Traffic), this film has to be must-see-streaming TV.  Well, maybe not!

The Laundromat is a “break-the-fourth-wall” comedy in the mold of The Big Short.  But it’s nowhere near as good.  The topic du jour is the mysterious universe of offshore companies, shell corporations, tax avoidance, and international reinsurance.  It’s the world of laundering money – the laundromat.

Soderbergh takes the screenplay by Scott Z. Burns (from the book by Jake Bernstein) and turns it into a trip from upstate New York to Nevis to Panama.

Streep plays Ellen Martin, whose husband (played by James Cromwell in a cameo) dies in a tour boat accident on Lake George in upstate New York.  When the boat owner’s insurance company balks at paying the claims for the dead passengers, we find out that that the insurer doesn’t even exist and has offloaded the bargain basement-priced policy to an offshore reinsurer, which doesn’t really exist either.  Behind all this are two slick hustlers played by Oscar winner Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas.  They own a law firm headquartered in Panama that masterminds the impenetrable web of deceit.

This premise might have made a fine movie if Soderbergh, Streep et al hadn’t turned it into a deceptive political statement complete with a last-minute “reveal” that I saw coming a mile away.  That “reveal” has caused quite a controversy stoked by political correctness.  If you are intrigued enough by that, you’ll need to sit through this short 95-minute film.

At the end of the day, this is the most disappointing Meryl Streep movie since Lions for Lambs, the Robert Redford propaganda film that starred Streep, Redford and Tom Cruise.  I know people who won’t see Streep movies because of her liberal politics.  I think that’s ridiculous unless her movies are politically motivated and executed.  The Laundromat is one of those movies.

It’s on Netflix so all you will do is waste an hour-and-a-half of your life if you watch it.  Thus, you don’t have much to lose.  Better you should spend your time on much better Netflix offerings.

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