You may have noticed by now that I am a fan of Netflix. That is partially because a number of years ago I cut the cord and realized paying $100 a month for cable that I mostly scrolled through was futile. More often, though, I find that Netflix seems to have a knack for either finding or producing compelling original gems, both in standalone movies and series that can entertain us for years. One of their most recent films, The Laundromat, provides an entertaining and horrifying glimpse into the tangled web of financial scams that spans the globe.
While the film often strikes a whimsical tone, it is an embellished and over the top version of events related to the very real Panama Papers scandal. In short, a law firm based in Panama, Mossack Fonseca, helped thousands of wealthy and questionable clients shelter money in offshore accounts and shell corporations. The intricate connections among individuals and dishonest businesses lead to a kind of domino effect that hit small businesses and individuals alike.
There is no crisis past, present or in the future that is as terrifying as injustice. The injustice of having the sense that even when doing everything right, you can still see your life’s work evaporate before your eyes. In The Laundromat, this is the case when a woman’s husband dies in a boating accident, only to have the boating company learn that their insurer was fraudulent. Imagine the gut-wrenching horror of a small business owner finding out that even though they had paid every single month to be insured without any lapse, they were paying a con man. Imagine the further horror of finding out that as a grieving widow you cannot hold a guilty party financially accountable, that you are left with absolutely nothing.
The film swings smoothly between serious human stories of the innocent being defrauded and humorous monologues. Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas shine as the slimy lawyers, Mossack and Fonseca, who are the captains of the corrupt law firm that sets up and maintains shell corporations for unscrupulous clients. They are completely believable as the morally bankrupt charlatans who are simultaneously likable because of how damn slick they are in their dealings. They can easily be reviled for acting like vultures, but also liked for a similar reason. Meryl Streep also stands out as the widow who has a bone to pick with them and relentlessly pursues the truth.
If you’re like me and only venturing out once a week for groceries, kick back and enjoy The Laundromat. It is sure to both entertain you and raise deeper existential questions for you about the nature of the financial behemoths which pull all the puppet strings of the world.
—Antonio Rodriguez, Blogger.
Joliet native Antonio Rodriguez is a jack of all trades, having worked in several careers since obtaining his bachelor’s degree ten years ago. An obsession with Mad Men and a love of advertising has led him to focus on studying Marketing at Lewis University, which he balances with walking his two rescue dogs. If either the zombies or machines rise up, he’s the man to find.