February 11th, 2022
STARRING: ZOE KRAVITZ, RITA WILSON, ROBIN GIVENS, DEVIN RATRAY
DIRECTED BY: STEVEN SODERBERGH
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Remember when the Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh was talking about retirement and taking a break from making movies? Thankfully that brief break is over, because this director is incredibly talented, and I forbid him to stop. Since 2017 he has blessed us with seven different films, each one of them unique, having many of the directors signature styles, and all of them showing a director that has an overflowing cup of cinema to bless us with. His recent work- Kimi, could be one of his best depending on the mood you are in, not just for the narrative inventiveness, but also because it’s the first film that feels entirely in the pandemic world. It stars Zoe Kravitz as Angela Childs, an agoraphobic woman that works for an Alexa-style company called Kimi, where she monitors customer problems with the Kimi programming, and comes upon a recording that captures a woman being attacked. Fighting against her own anxiety and fears, Angela embarks on a case to discover what happened on the other side of that audio, in this excellent and unpredictable thriller.
As a narrative, Kimi is right in step with Soderbergh’s past work, following other movies like Unsane, Side Effects, and Contagion. The setting and set up is done effortlessly, where we meet Angela in her Seattle loft, waking up alone in her isolated atmosphere, brewing coffee, doing a bike ride, and getting set up for work at her multiple monitors. It’s the setting and atmosphere that makes Kimi similar to films like Rear Window or The Game, where her fear of leaving the house, perfectly heightened in a time of Covid, adds to the paranoia. What’s added on top of that is the technology, where the Kimi system is constantly monitoring and even worse is that the company that Angela works for is hiding their own connection to a possible murder.
The second act of Kimi becomes a chase sequence, with remote hackers following her every move, and a pair of company goons chasing her through the city. It’s through the cinematography- also done by Soderbergh- which creates that added tension. The director is mixing in the cameras he often uses, including what I would assume is an iPhone, something that Soderbergh has used for his last films High Flying Bird and Let Them All Talk. He places the camera at low angles, tight closeups, and distorted lenses, making the process of following Angela in her plight both terrifying and wildly in the moment.
Outside of praising the director, the rest of Kimi won’t work without Zoe Kravitz, delivering some of her best work to date. The actress makes unique choices in her portrayal of the character, often pumping hand sanitizer in her hands and waving her dainty hands to dry, keeping her arms tight to her body, and head down to project a person that only wants to be in their space. Much like Claire Foy did in Unsane or the way Andre Holland works in High Flying Bird, it’s the lead characters that matter most, often saddled with the burden of driving the narrative. Lucky for us, we get an early glimpse of what should be a great 2022 for Kravitz, as her performance is undeniably stellar.
There are very few issues in Kimi– my lone critique being that the secretive side of the tech business is not something Soderbergh is interested in going deeper into- and even that is a matter of how much detail you think the story needs. I was able to look past it, especially as the third act goes to another level, something I did not see Kimi going to. Kimi is already a fantastic expression of everyone’s fears swirling around us, the fear to go outside, the fear to interact with others, the impact trauma has on a person, and the standard worries that our technology is spying on us. Steven Soderbergh has done it again and at this point there’s honestly nothing he can’t do.
KIMI IS PLAYING ON HBOMAX THIS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11TH, 2022
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady