An adaptation of Jake Bernstein’s nonfiction book, Secrecy World, about the 2016 Panama Papers scandal.
It’s excessive and then again intellectual, and breaks the fourth wall all the way through. I can’t help myself, but I just love the way director Soderbergh shoots and edits things. A much more up front agenda going on with this one, but the cast is all along for the ride and I found that it zipped along as the convoluted story and connections were revealed. The three leads – Oldman, Banderas and Streep – are all great as they have fun with the material.
A widow investigates an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of Panama City law partners exploiting the world’s financial system. The film tells the story of the law firm Mossack Fonseca, run by Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca Mora. The lawyers used all manner of technically legal, morally fuzzy financial instruments to help their clients hide their money, their identities, their true purposes or whatever it is they needed to keep secret.
The film ends with Streep directly addressing the camera while saying the words of John Doe — the still-anonymous whistleblower who revealed some 11.5 million documents unveiling the work of Mossack Fonseca. Streep cycles through multiple characters and even seems to reveal herself as herself, Meryl Streep, as a way of breaking through the boundaries of the fictional world in the film while also making an earnest plea for the audience’s attention. This is a very novel approach to ending a film. Director Soderbergh: “It had the potential to, in front of an audience, tear down all of those tricks until there was nothing left. That seemed to me a really interesting thing to try.”
USA 2019, 96 min, rated PG
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Cromwell & Sharon Stone