It’s hot on the Lido, very hot. The fans who wait for hours in front of the red carpet to maybe get an autograph or a selfie with Meryl Streep in the evening still have to get by without a sun canopy. They asked for one last year, and yes, it would be so easy to make the Venice Film Festival a little more pleasant for this year’s particularly large young audience.
At least the conference room in the Casinò has air conditioning, and this is where they sit, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and “Laundromat” director Steven Soderbergh. Antonio Banderas is missing, the third leading actor in the Panama Papers satire did not come to the Lido.
“Grief can be a powerful engine,” says Meryl Streep. She speaks softly, in a soft voice, but what she says contains political explosives. In “The Laundromat” she plays a middle-class woman who finds herself cheated of her life insurance and inheritance because of a criminal financial deal and persistently searches for those responsible after her husband was killed in a boat accident.
Oldman and Banderas are that bad guys, in the form of two semi-silky entertainers: Mossack & Fonseca, the bosses of the law firm of the same name, which helped found 300,000 letterbox companies in over 20 tax havens. After the Panama Papers were published, the two were imprisoned for three months. Not more.
Streep also speaks of Daphne Caruana Galizia
Grief as a motor and motivation: Streep doesn’t just mean the victims of real estate bubbles and tax evasion, she also alludes to US gun law and comes up with the relatives of the rampage victims, “the parents of the children who went to Parkland High School were shot, the parents of the children who were shot in Newtown, Connecticut ”. Such people don’t stop wanting to know: “If it’s something very personal, you don’t stop. We need such people when it matters, they are our salvation. “
Journalists are also among the victims, adds Meryl Streep, recalling the Maltese reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia, who researched corruption in her country with the help of the Panama Papers and was killed in a car bomb in 2017.
Soderbergh calls “The Laundromat” a black comedy. He does not want to teach, but to entertain. In fact, the tone and the satirical scenery are reminiscent of Adam McKay’s financial crisis farce “The Big Short”. Streep agrees: “It’s an entertaining, lively, funny way of telling a very, very bad joke that is at our all costs.”
A comedy on such a complex, serious subject as global financial flows, “Only someone like Soderbergh can do that. Or Bertolt Brecht ”. Cinema with a V-effect: Gary Oldman also thinks that he represents a version of Jürgen Mossack rather than playing his character in a realistic way.
Corruption and Climate Change
The film is based on Jakes Bernstein’s book “The Secrecy World” about money laundering and global financial flows. The Pulitzer Prize winner is one of 300 journalists who evaluated the Panama Papers after the data was leaked in 2016. “I researched the system, Soderbergh personified it. He shows the guys to do it, ”says Bernstein in Venice.
Corruption is one of the big issues alongside climate change, says the director. “One percent of humanity owns half of the world’s wealth.” Only transparency, for example a law such as the “unexplained wealth order” recently enacted in Great Britain, would help against this. If even the judiciary is corrupt, the public is all the more important: That we do not stop to question dubious financial transactions, to talk about them. Soderbergh thinks a film is not a bad starting point for such conversations. Especially one that is easily accessible on streaming platforms.
And how does Meryl Streep feel about Netflix after she also appeared on an HBO series? Along with Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” and the Shakespeare adaptation “The King”, “The Laundromat” is one of three Netflix productions in the main program of the 76th Venice Film Festival. “Size does not really matter,” says Streep. Your generation likes the big screen, the youngsters today don’t care about the format.
At the press screening that morning, the audience first applauded when the Netflix N appeared in the opening credits. The applause was met with a few boos. The dispute over streaming platforms remains topical.