The Laundromat

Rated 2.0

Normally reliable director Steven Soderbergh delivers a mess of a movie filled with Oscar-caliber talent and an unfocussed sense of purpose. Dealing with a real-life scandal that included insurance fraud and the aftermath of a terrible boating accident in Lake George, New York, a cast including Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas is squandered as the movie undergoes one discordant tonal shift after another. Soderbergh starts the movie off well—the boating accident is chillingly filmed—but then the movie makes some odd choices, including Oldman and Banderas playing a couple of lawyers who break the fourth wall and narrate the film. The movie strives to be clever, but ultimately lacks an original idea on how to focus on its subject matter and come up with something compelling rather than confusing. Props to Streep, who is excellent as a passenger on the ill-fated boat trying to receive insurance compensation. Streep has more than one surprise up her sleeve in this movie. Adam McKay made The Big Short a few years ago, and some films have been trying to capture the darkly comic, real-life vibe of that one. They’ve been trying and failing, and this one tanks quickly. (Streaming on Netflix during a limited theatrical release.)