I wouldn’t expect much of an awards season presence for The Laundromat, the fourth collaboration between writer Scott Z. Burns and director Steven Soderbergh after The Informant!, Contagion and Side Effects. Netflix, which will give the film a limited theatrical release starting Sept. 27 before beginning to stream it on Oct. 18., has plenty else on its plate this season that will be easier to sell to voters.
The Laundromat, a dark comedy in which Meryl Streep stars as an older American woman reeling from a tragedy and unable to find anyone who will accept accountability or apologize for it, is a well-made, brisk (at just 96 minutes), engaging and disheartening tour — guided by Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman as shady mega-rich know-it-alls — through the corrupt global financial system, from shell companies to insurance corporations to offshore banks. But a version of this has been done before and done better — recently — in Adam McKay‘s 2015 dramedy The Big Short.
Every film from Burns, Soderbergh and especially Streep has something interesting about it and is worth checking out. Among other things, this one showcases Streep pulling another acting surprise out of her seemingly bottomless, Mary Poppins-esque bag. I will not spoil what it is, but just say that it results in an unusual ending that reinforces something Streep said on Monday night when she was honored at the inaugural TIFF Tribute Gala: These days, one of her greatest considerations when it comes to picking projects is whether or not the project can make a positive difference in the world.