Granny’s gets lost in the world of stocks and bonds. My financial advisor had to finally give me a “Wall Street for Dummies” book to help me understand my portfolio. Bless his soul! But it did help me understand the film. What does bananas and cows have to do with money laundering? Messrs. Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonesca will be happy to explain in my review of The Laundromat, a 2019 comedy-drama based on a true story.
The Laundromat, which is based on the book, Secrecy World by Jake Bernstein, is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Cromwell and Sharon Stone. The afore mentioned comparison of bananas and cows is really about the Panama Papers scandal which made public the widespread intricacies of money laundering.
The plot is told in segments, which is narrated by the smug and filthy rich Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Fonseca (Antonio Banderas). Segment #1: “The meek are screwed” begins with a married couple’s disastrous day trip. Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) and her husband, Joe, go on a pleasure boat on Lake George. The boat capsizes and many people are killed, including Joe. When Ellen tries to collect the insurance from the boating company, she learns that the Reinsurance Company, which represents the boat company’s owner and son, has been sold to another company in Nevis…a small island in the Caribbean Sea.
Not only is Ellen a victim of the corporate shell game, but so are the father (Robert Patrick) and son (David Schwimmer) owners of the boat company. Their insurance policy is owned by scam artist (Jeffrey Wright) who incidentally works for Messrs. Mossack and Fonesca.
In the second segment called “It’s just shells” We watch as Charles (Nonso Anonzie), another wealthy man uses bearer shares as capital to live a life of wicked wealth. Apparently, the person physically holding the bearer shares owns the wealth aka lots of bananas and cows. When Charles is caught having sex with his daughter’s friend, he tries to bribe his wife and daughter with bearer bonds. The wife and daughter soon learn that the bonds are as worthless as the paper they are printed on, and that Charles, like most of the unscrupulous and sinfully wealthy people, make a habit of using imaginary companies and accounts as weapons.
By the time we reach the third segment “Tell a friend”, Mossack and Fonseca have completely explained how the simple act of bartering bananas for a cow has blossomed into rich people avoiding paying any taxes by inventing false companies and false merchandise…and…they are still getting away with this while the little people like us are forced to pay taxes or risk a jail sentence.
This is a heavy topic to digest, but Steven Soderbergh was able to spoon feed us the truth in the most enjoyable way. I absolutely love any film that Meryl Streep is in, so this was a plus for me. She also plays another character, but I’ll leave it to you to guess before the film ends.
What made me watch this show a second time was Gary Oldman’s and Antonio Banderas’s performance. They were outstanding in their portrayal of Messrs. Mossack and Fonseca. They always say, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down,” and learning about the Panama Papers was a bit easier to stomach because Oldman and Banderas used their comedic wit to walk us through one the most unethical crimes continuing as of today.
It would interest you to know that Mossack and Fonseca were arrested and jailed in February 2017, thanks to a Whistleblower and unprotected emails…but they only spent a few months in jail. They are out on bail while new charges continue to build up against them.
And, if that big tax break that President Trump gave to the wealthy corporations and fat cats didn’t royally piss you off, you might want to know that two states, Delaware and Nevada, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands are known to be a haven for loose regulations and low taxes making them a prime place for a shell game like the Panama Papers. Watch the film on Netflix