By Naseem Ally. The Laundromat is the latest original film from the streaming giant Netflix. With an all-star cast, Netflix has pulled out all the stops to have another crack at the award season following Roma’s acclaim. It’s a financial expose film on a ‘shell’ company in Panama, claiming to provide clients with the wealth management they deserve. However, in four different scenarios, the truth behind these claims unravels.
Meryl Streep leads an all-star cast, rubbing shoulders with Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and David Schwimmer.
The film opens with the face of Benjamin Franklin, setting the tone, that this film is all about the Benjamins, baby! The dapper duo of Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas casually stroll at exotic hotspots, narrating about the necessity and pitfalls of money over the course of the film.
There is an ongoing theme of rules, that get introduced one by one with some superb animations. It felt as if, they were giving an interactive walkthrough of their very own version of the 48 Laws Of Power.
Rule 1. ‘The Meek Are Screwed’.
Ellen, played by Meryl Streep, is a retiree who goes on vacation with her husband that unfortunately ends in turmoil. As a result, she’s now left as a widow. Ellen investigates the will left, with an insurance firm, who informs her that her late husband had been conned into a fake insurance policy. If there’s supposedly nothing she can claim, what’s her alternative?
There were some great locations for the shooting of this film. Gary and Antonio did not look out of place during their strolls in what seemed like the Nevada Dessert, in their cream suits waxing so poetically about money.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the set and costume designers for this film receiving numerous nominations, come award season. The film really portrayed the contrast of the worlds between the uber-wealthy and the ‘meek’.
The bright, extravagant Versace silk shirts and California sunshine on one end of the spectrum, contrasted by the dark, deep blues of a fisherman’s attire as he toils on a stormy front.
In the eyes of the insurance firm, the working class’s efforts are all pointless. All their hopes and dreams that they’d put into their retirement plans, are nowhere to be seen. They are all ‘shells’ in non-existent firms.
A noticeable feature, in at least some of the most recent financial expose films, such as The Wolf Of Wall Street or The Big Short, is that as well having a heavy emphasis on narration, visually, it’s very loud.
The Laundromat follows this trend. But, it works.
It really paints the picture of how the other half lives.
As well as The Laundromat having a comedic tone, it’s also somewhat philosophical. The Biblical references, such as ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ is a topic that Meryl’s character touches on in her internal dialogue towards the latter part of the film.
After watching a film like this, it leaves you pondering your own internal dialogue on the world of finance. How do the wealthy wriggle their way through these financial loopholes? Why don’t schools teach students about offshore companies as part of the national curriculum?
In the news, it’s common to see the debate on economic inequality and how the rules do not favour the many, but the few.
This ends up being nothing more than a pressing issue for the moment, as people get caught up in the usual trivia of day to day life, that when they are presented with an agenda like this, it reignites that disdain for the 1 percent.
But, before you know it, there’s a new shiny gimmick that captures the imagination, and the cycle repeats.
The Laundromat may leave you feeling conflicted, as this film projects the notion of it wagging its finger at you for not being disappointed by how unfair it all is, and how the common folk should rise up and fight against austerity.
However, in all honesty, it feels like a rallying cry in vain.
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