The Laundromat ★★★

This is a deeply unlikeable movie about deep-seated financial fraud, the most grievous reparations of which affect ordinary citizens like you and me. This is the sort of story that’s difficult to report on, much less visualize, and at the very least the film is a gallant, if questionable attempt to do both, especially the visualize part.

But the unlikableness… isn’t this the point? To be discomfited by this film, even if you don’t 100% comprehend its descriptions of shell companies (I don’t), is an appropriate response, one analogous to Meryl Streep’s milquetoast widow who spends the entire film trying to figure out just what the shit is going on. This is a film in which the main character is the bad guy and you know from the very beginning that he gets away with it, so from the get-go it’s not the sort of charismatic crime spree becoming of the director of the Ocean’s 11 movies.

It doesn’t succeed at all of this, and the didacticism often overwhelms it’s formal ingenuity — but the film’s form is so sure-handed that it’s often a marvel to watch, culminating in a conceptual gambit that, for many I imagine, oversteps its ambition. But for me that ending landed like a punch straight in the gut.

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