Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi works as a modernized Hitchcockian thriller that speaks to our current capacity for resiliency.
This review of the HBO Max original film Kimi does not contain spoilers.
Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi setup works as a modernized fusion for premises ripped from Alfred Hitchcock classics Vertigo and Rear Window. In addition to the director’s gift of a strong sense of pacing and a script from the go-to man in screen treatments, David Koepp, in which Koepp outlines a multi-dimensional female character. She is tenacious, has a solid moral code, yet is emotionally vulnerable and can mask it. All while being dropped into various intense situations that play out like a quick shot of suspenseful adrenaline.
The film’s main character, Angela (Zoë Kravitz), is an agoraphobiac and has found work as a tech worker helping constantly tweaking errors for their cloud-based service, Kimi (voiced by Betsy Brantley). She is deathly afraid of going outside since being sexually assaulted. And the fact that most have been stuck in their apartment because of the pandemic has possibly enabled her. Angela has limited social interaction. She has regular facetime phone calls with her mom (Robin Givens) that end in fights. Angela sees a psychiatrist (Gilmore Girls’ Emily Kuroda), who she sees as a nuisance. She has a Beau, Terry (Byron Bowers), who she catches semi-regular, even in person, for an occasional booty call. Even a stalker (or guardian angel) who stares at her from the building across the way.
I wouldn’t want to discuss much of the plot here. I will mention that Angela comes across a recording of a possible violent crime. Kimi takes off when Angela struggles with what to do with that information. Soderbergh’s film is a sparse 89-minutes and is so straightforward it would ruin the movie before you hit play if discussed further. That being said, some of the plots seem muddled and lost in translation. Possibly to be consolidated to fit a shorter runtime.
There are some excellent supporting performances in Kimi. Rita Wilson plays a hard-to-read corporate officer, Natalie Chowdhury. If you are a fan of Steven Soderbergh’s filmography, you’ll enjoy the sight of some of his regular players. (Like Traffic’s Erika Jane Christensen, Jacob Vargas, and a few others). The sleek technology aspect of the film is not overdone. That is important from a simplified standpoint that doesn’t take away from the thriller’s overall tone.
Kimi, an entertaining finished product, considers Angela’s mental health and even our reliance on technology. The pandemic’s effects on mental health exasperated by social isolation never touch on our capacity for resiliency. This is an unintended consequence of our current state that is wonderfully utilized here and that Hollywood rarely touches upon.
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