Streep, Banderas and Oldman stage Panama Papers scandal in The Laundromat

The Laundromat | Official Trailer | Netflix

I’m really impressed with Netflix’s slate of recently announced shows. They’re gearing up to be genuinely original, funny features and series that don’t just masquerade as great drama for the sake of awards season. (Though they’ll probably be in the runnings just the same.) Adding to a growing list, we can now include The Laundromat, with an all-star cast featuring Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman, which kicks off Venice today and will headline at TIFF next week.

You can gauge the tone of the rest of the trailer from the opening quote alone. Based on the Panama Papers scandal, which lifted the lid on how the details of over 200,000 offshore accounts were leaked to the press, the film shows how easy it is for the rich and famous to use tax havens to horde their wealth. The scale of the drama can’t be exaggerated. It made Wikileaks look small by comparison. Thus making it perfect October viewing.

Meryl Streep plays Ellen Martin, a tourist who investigates the scam carried out by Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonesca (Antonio Banderas). Their dirty money leads them on detours through China, Mexico, Africa, Los Angeles and the Caribbean en route to 2016’s Panama Papers publication — where journalists revealed the secret, leaked documents of the pair’s elite clients. There’s also — wait for it — surprise David Schwimmer! We might be seeing him reprise his role as Ross in theaters this fall, but I’m happy to see him make an appearance in a semi-serious role too. 

The dramedy is right in line with the Ocean’s 11style we immediately associate with Soderbergh. I vouch that none of us can resist a slick, fast-paced heist with a cast like this, and he tagline “Based on actual lies” makes for an intriguing ride. Scott Z. Burns has penned the screenplay, apparently working simultaneously on The Report, due to hit Netflix in November. His two projects are in distinctly different veins, so think of it as an experiment to see which does better.

The official synopsis is as follows: 

When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen Martin (Academy Award winner Meryl Streep) begins investigating a fake insurance policy, only to find herself down a rabbit hole of questionable dealings that can be linked to a Panama City law firm and its vested interest in helping the world’s wealthiest citizens amass even larger fortunes. 

The charming – and very well-dressed – founding partners Jürgen Mossack (Academy Award winner Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Golden Globe nominee Antonio Banderas) are experts in the seductive ways shell companies and offshore accounts help the rich and powerful prosper. They are about to show us that Ellen’s predicament only hints at the tax evasion, bribery and other illicit absurdities that the super wealthy indulge in to support the world’s corrupt financial system.

Chasing the emerging trend of a shared streaming and theatrical release, The Laundromat will receive a limited release from September 27 in Los Angeles, New York and the UK, and will be available to stream on Netflix worldwide from 18 October. In the meantime, you can take a look at the official poster below.

Sian Francis Cox
Sian is Flixist’s UK Editor and has written for sites including Escapist Magazine, Destructoid, and Film Enthusiast.