Meryl Streep in a scene from the movie The Laundromat. Supplied by Netflix.
Meryl Streep in a scene from the movie The Laundromat. Supplied by Netflix.

Truly shocking twist in new Netflix movie

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Laundromat, which is now streaming on Netflix.

SORRY to be that person who spoils movies, but I simply must spoil The Laundromat.

I realise that The Laundromat - Steven Soderbergh's new Netflix movie starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas - may not seem like the type of movie that comes with a huge plot twist. But oh, how it does. How it really, really does. I haven't seen a movie plot twist this extra since the Pikachu was revealed to be Justice Smith's dad in Detective Pikachu. Actually, no, this is more extra than that.

The screenplay, written by Scott Z. Burns (who also recently directed a historical drama with a very different tone, The Report) tells the story of the Panama Papers scandal. Maybe you heard about the Panama Papers document leak on the news in 2015, but didn't really understand it. The Laundromat wants to help, with an increasingly absurd 90-minute lecture on the greedy world of international finance. This lecture is led by Oldman and Banderas who play Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca respectively, the co-founders of the Mossack Fonseca law firm at the centre of the scandal.

Whether they will actually help you understand this complex scandal is debatable, but I give Soderbergh credit for cramming in as much camp as humanly possible into a film about corporate politics. This entire movie is doing the most, from Oldman's over-the-top, almost indecipherable German accent to the sparkly, bedazzled suits. And the campiest, most extra moment of all is the absolutely bananas reveal delivered by Streep in the film's final moments.

OK, here we go. Here comes The Laundromat plot twist. I can't keep it in any longer. Leave now if that's not what you want. If you're still reading this, I assume you're ready to get spoiled. It's happening now. Ready? OK: Meryl Streep secretly plays two characters in The Laundromat.

One more time in case you missed that: Meryl Streep secretly plays two characters in The Laundromat. She kind of plays three characters, in fact, if you count her playing herself.

The first character is Ellen Martin. Ellen is a middle-class victim of the Panama City law firm from Michigan. We all know she is played by Meryl Streep. She looks like Meryl Streep, she moves like Meryl Streep, and she sounds like Meryl Streep when Meryl Streep is putting on a Midwestern accent.

The second character Streep plays is an anonymous administrative assistant in the Panama City law firm's office. She fades into the background of the film, and we do not know she is Meryl Streep. She does not look like Meryl Streep, because she has a large nose, straight black hair, and sunglasses. She does not move like Meryl Streep, because she is on the heavier side. She does not sound like Meryl Streep, because she speaks with a thick Panamanian Spanish accent. And yet, she is Meryl Streep, as is revealed when Streep takes off her padding, fake nose, sunglasses, and wig in the film's final scene. If Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry can do it, why not Meryl Streep? I guess?

 

Meryl Streep’s two characters in The Laundromat.
Meryl Streep’s two characters in The Laundromat.

Here's how it happens: After Oldman and Banderas deliver their final narration, the administrative assistant walks onto the screen and recites the manifesto of John Doe, the anonymous whistleblower who leaked the documents. As she monologues, she walks onto a film set and begins to pull off her disguise: The bra padding, the fake nose and glasses, and finally, the wig. She starts with that thick Latin American accent, but after the wig comes off, she switches to her Ellen Martin Midwest accent. And eventually, at the end of her speech, she takes off her Ellen wig, too - yes, Streep was wearing two wigs - and drops the Midwest accent, too.

 

Off come the glasses …
Off come the glasses …

 

… and the wig.
… and the wig.

 

Now she's just Meryl Streep, speaking straight to the camera when she says, "Now is the time for real action. It starts with asking questions. Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes, relative to any other segment of the population. These political practices have come full circle and are irreconcilable. Reform of America's broken campaign finance system cannot wait."

On that final word, she lifts her hairbrush into the air and holds onto her script, becoming Lady Liberty. And that's how the movie ends!

 

Streep at the end of the movie.
Streep at the end of the movie.

Basically, The Laundromat is just 90 minutes of dramatic build-up to a Meryl Streep PSA about corporate tax avoidance. As far as PSAs go, you can't deny this will get people talking. I personally can't wait to tell every single person I know about this.

The twist is already causing a stir online a day after The Laundromat dropped on Netflix - including some criticism of Streep playing a Latina character:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article originally appeared on Decider and was reproduced with permission.


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