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The Laundromat (2019)

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A widow investigates an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of Panama City law partners exploiting the world's financial system.

Director:

Steven Soderbergh

Writers:

Jake Bernstein (book), Scott Z. Burns (screenplay)
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371 ( 82)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Gary Oldman ... Jürgen Mossack
Sharon Stone ... Hannah
Meryl Streep ... Ellen Martin
Melissa Rauch ... Melanie
Antonio Banderas ... Ramón Fonseca
David Schwimmer ... Matthew Quirk
Robert Patrick ... Captain Perry
James Cromwell ... Joseph David Martin
Jeffrey Wright ... Malchus Irvin Boncamper
Matthias Schoenaerts ... Maywood
Will Forte ... Doomed Gringo #1
Chris Parnell ... Doomed Gringo #2
Rosalind Chao ... Gu Kailai
Shoshana Bush ... Rebecca Rubinstein
Marsha Stephanie Blake ... Vincelle Boncamper
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Storyline

When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) begins investigating a fake insurance policy, only to find herself down a rabbit hole of questionable dealings that can be linked to a Panama City law firm and its vested interest in helping the world's wealthiest citizens amass larger fortunes. Founding partners Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas) are experts in the seductive ways shell companies and offshore accounts help the rich and powerful prosper. They are about to show us that Ellen's predicament only hints at the tax evasion, bribery and other illicit absurdities that the super wealthy indulge in to support the world's corrupt financial system. Zipping through a kaleidoscope of detours in China, Mexico, Africa (via Los Angeles) and the Caribbean en route to 2016's Panama Papers publication - where journalists leaked the secret, encrypted documents of Mossack Fonseca's high-profile patrons - THE LAUNDROMAT's ensemble ... Written by Netflix

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual content and disturbing images | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

Russian | English | Mandarin | Spanish

Release Date:

27 September 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Laundromat See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78:1/2.35:1 (China segment)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Schwimmer, Gary Oldman and Chris Parnell both starred in Friends (1994). See more »

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User Reviews

 
fraudulent
10 October 2019 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. The meek may inherit the earth, but if this Steven Soderbergh movie based on Jake Bernstein's book (screenplay by Scott Z Burns) is correct, they aren't likely to get the money too. To put it more bluntly, the first of the film's 5 rules of creating and protecting wealth is, "the meek are screwed." In order to follow this film that is "based on true secrets", it helps to have a basic knowledge of the Panama Papers ... a 2016 anonymous leak of more than 11 million documents exposing how the rich skirt the laws when it comes to protecting their money. Offshore entities had previously been a mainstream punchline, but these documents from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama, clearly outlined just how widespread the practice had become.

Rather than traditional narrative form, the information is presented through multiple vignettes featuring an impressive roster of well-known actors: Meryl Streep, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Melissa Rauch, David Schwimmer, James Cromwell, Matthias Schoenaerts, Robert Patrick, Nonso Anozie, and Rosalind Chao, plus a few others you'll recognize. In the role of tongue-in-cheek emcees are Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, as Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, respectively. Their coordinating flamboyant outfits correspond to these caricatures of the real men behind this web of fraudulent activity. They are meant to add humor to the situation, but also tell "their side of the story."

We are caught off-guard when Meryl Streep's story and her character are not the main focus. Her slow unraveling of insurance fraud after her husband's death is but one segment of the lesson that will likely confuse most people. The easy comparison is Adam McKay's THE BIG SHORT (2015), which used some of this style in explaining the mortgage backed securities market. Whereas Mr. McKay won an Oscar for his screenplay, that's highly unlikely for this one. Scott Z Burns is a talented writer, but this was simply too complex of a subject to tackle in 95 minutes. Mr. Soderbergh, as is tendency, not only directs the film, but is also the cinematographer, editor and producer.

This is a Netflix production, and thanks to the presence of Ms. Streep, will likely have at least a limited theatrical release. Unfortunately, neither big screen nor small will solve the inherent issues here. There are some nuggets such as Delaware, despite its population of less than one million, being king of corporation filings (thanks to its business-friendly tax laws). Understanding shell companies, tax evasion, and other illicit financial activities among the world's ultra-rich requires more than a talented cast, but perhaps there is enough here to motivate some to dig a little deeper with their own research. That is, if the film's finale - a lecture on reform - doesn't turn you off completely. Many of us appreciate being informed, but rebel against the preaching.


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