Netflix film The Laundromat serves its single purpose to convey the weight and seriousness of The Panama Papers, going down plenty of rabbit holes.
When the Panama Papers were released, I don’t believe the general public was shocked, so Netflix film The Laundromat is hardly a fictional revelation of what happens within our financial systems for the rich. Regular folk always assumed that unethical forensic accounting exists. Heck, I’ve been burnt from it myself. One time, I had a Council job as a contractor, and two years later, HMRC was asking me multiple questions about how much I was paid — little did I know in a regular job I worked for six weeks, that my wages were wired through a shell company.
The Laundromat is purposefully tricky with its narrative to exemplify the complexity of keeping the rich, well, rich. It involves many variables, from bottom to top, to ensure that the system remained in place, until the ultimate exposure. Often, the running scenes get sideswiped with explanations on how the system works, and how even the innocent, the vulnerable were inadvertently trapped into cogs to protect one’s greed.
The Laundromat starts the story with Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) innocently on a tour boat with her husband (James Cromwell). In a tragic incident, the boat was suddenly flipped over by an unexpected wave. Her husband’s death was caused by the event and this circles around to insurance policies that were flagrantly over-sold and essentially is a fake agreement. From here, The Laundromat goes down several rabbit holes, looking into questionable dealings and ponders the nature of human greed.
Based on the non-fiction book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite, the Netflix film serves a political purpose against the elite. It’s a considerable f–k you to those who have taken advantage of us. While I’m all for making money, kindness is a gift that keeps giving. It’s clear that The Laundromat exposes people that were not kind, far from it.
Steven Soderbergh‘s direction is satisfactory in The Laundromat, making it his second successful film on Netflix this year. He makes the offenders look extravagantly naive and out-of-depth. There are plenty of excuses in the story that belittles their defense, rather than strengthens it. Its comedic approach makes the minefield a more enjoyable piece of work, rather than offering a mind-numbing education that sags halfway through.
After the success of The Wolf of Wall Street, I do wonder if the shock factor of films like The Laundromat loses pace. We know what to expect, and we know it will happen again. Regardless, it’s a piece of work that is worth watching.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.