Steven Soderbergh is renowned for his experimental style and perennial disdain for mainstream film norms. For that reason, it came as no surprise when he shot his disturbing psychological thriller “Unsane” entirely using an iPhone 7 Plus in 4K. Trailblazing in the sense it proves feature films can be made on a relatively low budget – around the $1.5 million mark – Unsane has the director’s filthy fingerprints all over it. The use of invasive fly-on-the-wall vantage points and uncomfortable close-ups are but two of these.
Soderbergh ventured down the same track with his last movie “High Flying Bird.” Made on a slightly higher budget of $2 million and using an iPhone 8 equipped with an anamorphic lens, the gripping Netflix sports drama continues to demonstrate the filmmaker’s penchant for testing the boundaries of his craft.
So, what can we expect from Soderbergh’s much-anticipated latest project? With a script written by longtime collaborator Scott Z. Burns, based on a 2017 book by Jake Bernstein, “The Laundromat” tells the true story of how the Panama Papers were leaked, blowing open one of the largest money laundering schemes in history.
After an incident on vacation, widow Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) begins to uncover a dodgy shadow economy connected to a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, run by charismatic partners Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas). She soon learns they’ve created numerous fake companies, allowing the world’s elite to unlawfully funnel money beneath the surface of global finance and hide it in off-shore accounts, all in the aid of tax-evasion.
Sadly – or gladly, depending on who you are – the scope of the film is such that Soderbergh has shot with a range of the latest RED digital cameras. Regardless, there’s no doubt we’ll be treated to some of the director’s usual magic. And who knows, perhaps he has some new tricks up his sleeve.
The outstanding cast also features Sharon Stone, Alex Pettyfer, David Schwimmer, and Melissa Rauch, among others. Riley Keough was in talks to get on board, but it didn’t work out due to a scheduling conflict with A24’s “Zola.”
“The Laundromat” will premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2019, and hits Netflix on October 18.