First things first: Steven Soderbergh‘s new film, The Laundromat, is not about an actual laundromat. It does, however, tell the story of the journalists who uncovered the Panama Papers.
In 2015, an anonymous source leaked what has become known as the Panama Papers. The short version of what went on with the Panama Papers is this: 11.5 million confidential documents, some of which date all the way back to the 1970s, were leaked. These documents detailed information about offshore accounts (214,488 entities, in fact) created by a Panamanian law firm provider called Mossack Fonseca. Heads of state, business executives, and even celebrities were named in these papers that basically insinuated they were hiding their money offshore.
There was some fraud here, a bit of tax evasion there. There is plenty of literature (including an incredibly long Wikipedia page) on the subject, but thankfully, this story is getting the biopic treatment courtesy of Soderbergh. There’s no better way to teach the children about a convoluted subject than to have none other than Meryl Streep be the one to explain it all (with humor and trendy vacation style, no doubt).
In the film, Streep plays a woman who starts to investigate a fraudulent insurance company, finds out she’s been cheated out of some money, and begins to pull on those threads of information to eventually uncover an international scandal orchestrated by two Panama City law partners Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack played by Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman (who is an affecting some sort of accent of indeterminate origin in the trailer for the film). David Schwimmer, Jeffrey Wright, and Sharon Stone co-star.
Just like, The King, The Irishman, Marriage Story and a few other Netflix releases, The Laundromat will debut at a festival (Venice International Film Festival, to be exact) and will be given a limited theatrical release date before it is available to stream.
The Laundromat isn’t the only Soderbergh project Streep has coming up. She’ll star in the director’s forthcoming HBO Max series (tentatively titled Let Them Talk) about a celebrated author who goes on a cruise with her best friends. Hopefully that vacation ends on a more positive note than the one her character takes in The Laundromat.