Kimi review: Steven Soderbergh’s tech optimism raises big questions – but doesn’t always answer them

Dir: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, India de Beaufort, Emily Kuroda, Byron Bowers. 15, 87 minutes.

Are there any surprises? Steven Soderbergh made the best movie to date about the Covid-19 pandemic? He predicted it, in a strange way – his 2011 horror film Infection put together a neat blueprint for the past two years, talking about “social distancing” and widespread hand washing. His latest, Kimi, providing a second shot of synchronicity. It’s a horror film conceived before the pandemic that now, with a few changes, has tapped into something amazingly universal – instantly connected and isolated from the world. .

In the summer of 2020, screenwriter David Koepp, known for Jurassic Park and Panic roomfinally decided to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) because of a bit of cyber paranoia that he had been munching on for several years. Kimi untitled the 2015 Arkansas murder case, in which Amazon was ordered to deliver recordings from an Alexa device present at a murder scene. It’s a walking study in modern ethics. Will social interest replace our privacy? Are tech companies bound by ethical obligations? Koepp delights in these questions, even if the final answer may elude him.

Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz) works at Amygdala Corporation. Her job is rather tedious. Every day, she sits at her desk and looks at the errors from their Kimi smart speaker. You see, the big selling point here is that Kimi comes with human touch – people like Angela will sit and listen to your mutilated attempts to add tissues to your shopping list or play. song “Me” by Taylor Swift. They will then use their human intuition to continuously develop and improve the service. But the Amygdala Corporation is asking these employees to essentially act like flesh-and-blood robots. They must act without connection or compassion.

When Angela comes across a recording that she believes is a violent crime, she is treated by her superiors with bland anger or compassion, the recording is then delivered a persuasively by Rita Wilson’s perfectly made-up director. And when Angela refuses to line up, all she gets is a target behind her back. There’s a degree of uncertainty here, it’s part of the package. But that’s part of the easy confidence in Soderbergh’s approach, a particular hallmark of his pandemic-era creative boom – Kimi following the half improv comedy of 2020 Let them talk and crime in 2021 Do not move suddenlyall taken with Covid restrictions in place.

Angela has an anxiety disorder with symptoms of both OCD – especially repetitive and frequent needs – and agoraphobia. When she’s finally forced to leave her apartment and venture out into the world, it’s like watching the neurons in Soderbergh’s brain suddenly explode all at once. Gone are the elegant crane shots in and out of her windows, elegantly punctuated by Cliff Martinez’s electronic spin on the suspenseful subject of Bernard Herrmann. Suddenly, the camera was pointed at Angela’s calf like an angry chihuahua. The rush of people past sounded like an army of gears spinning endlessly. Soderbergh, who is both a cinematographer and an editor under the usual pseudonyms of Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard, is his element.

Crucially, Kravitz’s performance isn’t too concerned with being likable. She is short to everyone. A little cold, sometimes. “Covid has had a bit of a setback,” she admits, dealing with her heartbreak as if it were just another day job. There is no tired overlay of self-regulating importance, Kimi successfully captures how the pandemic has, for many, felt like watching an invisible hand slowly wreak havoc on their lives. Sitting all day on Zoom and feeling more alone than ever is an exhausting experience. Such is the idea of ​​having such minute-to-minute control over a living space, while feeling completely conquered by it. Soderbergh may not have intended Kimi It’s a movie that’s mostly about the pandemic, but it’s profoundly understanding of what it’s like to live through it.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/kimi-review-zoe-kravitz-b2017323.html Kimi review: Steven Soderbergh’s tech optimism raises big questions – but doesn’t always answer them

Tom Vazquez

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