Oct 06
2019

After a very limited theatrical release on September 27 in US theaters (to qualify for Oscar voters), “The Laundromat” is waiting for its big release on Netflix worldwide on October 18. The major American critics have seen it already, and while the reviews from the Venice Film Festival were a rather stiff embrace, the US critics have panned it largely. RottenTomatoes currently lists the film at 43% with the critical consensus: “The Laundromat misuses its incredible cast by taking a disappointingly blunt and unfocused approach to dramatizing the real-life events that inspired it.” We can all make our thoughts about it on October 18, in the meantime here’s a collection of reviews, including a couple of new production stills.

Richard Roeper, The Chicago Sun-Times (October 03, 2019)
I wish I could tell you this shambling, cryptic, tone-shifting mash-up of so many different stories (and there are more) eventually comes together in one smartly conceived, cleverly executed, cohesive package — but that never happens. In fact, the final, self-conscious, ta-da! moment only serves to lessen the impact of the proceedings to that point, and the speech we get about political and financial corruption feels more like a hectoring lecture than an insightful commentary.

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly (October 02, 2019)
What might be hardest to believe about these stories, though, is that it’s Soderbergh telling them. If the Oscar-winning director doesn’t exactly have a signature through-line in his career, subject or style-wise — without a certified letter from IMDb, you’d be hard-pressed to conclusively prove that Oceans 11, Erin Brokovich, Magic Mike, and Traffic were all made by the same man. Which doesn’t mean the film is some kind of terrible black mark on his record; there are more than a few good nuggets in all those teachable moments. And if a motley crew of movie stars is what it takes to shine more light on bad laws, then let Meryl carry that torch in a wig and a bucket hat. But as a pure movie-going experience, it’s all kind of a wash.

Brian Lowry, CNN (September 27, 2019)
“The Laundromat” makes a pointed political statement, while spinning out a garbled mess of a movie. In the process, director Steven Soderbergh mostly squanders a cast toplined by Meryl Streep, in a Netflix film that plays like a darkly satiric connection of vignettes that lost something — mostly, a coherent narrative — in the rinse cycle. [It] tries to have it all ways, and proves every bit as unwieldy as that sounds. And while it might be interesting enough to give a look if you’re a Netflix subscriber, in terms of its advance theatrical release, save your quarters.

David Edelstein, New York Magazine (September 27, 2019)
Steven Soderbergh’s new exercise for Netflix is The Laundromat, a broad agitprop comedy written by Scott Z. Burns that’s labored in parts but is, as a whole, sensationally valuable. A colleague has referred to The Laundromat as a “poor man’s The Big Short.” I would correct that to a “heavily mortgaged middle-class man’s The Big Short,” and add that that is not such a bad thing.

A.O. Scott, The New York Times (September 25, 2019)
“The Laundromat” is like an enthusiastic high-school teacher – maybe you know the type – who tries to liven up dry material with skits, games and funny costumes. The film’s subject matter could hardly be more urgent: the deep and pervasive corruption of the global financial system, as documented in the 2016 data leak known as the Panama Papers. But the movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, conducts its business with brisk, breezy irreverence. It’s a didactic comedy, an earnest lesson in political economy dressed up as a farce.

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker (September 20, 2019)
There is nothing new, of course, about villains hogging the spotlight. That is their domain. Why, then, should “The Laundromat” induce such particular queasiness? Partly because of Meryl Streep, who shows us what might have been. As Ellen, she is a marvel; few other performers can give such a plausible, affecting, and unpatronizing account of a regular citizen, tethered by stable values and fond memories. (“He took me to see Diana Ross at Caesar’s,” she says of her husband.) I’d say that Ellen merits a movie to herself, instead of which she is constantly interrupted, and we get the fatal sense that Soderbergh is a trifle impatient with her normality—that he doesn’t back her as he backed Julia Roberts in the cleaner, more determined story line of “Erin Brockovich.”