Zoë Kravitz is one of the most dependable actresses of her generation. Regardless of the setting, the genre, or the script, Kravitz consistently delivers. Fans of the multitalented actress looking for more of the same can find comfort in her new HBO Max exclusive Kimi. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by David Koepp, the new thriller flips the very real global COVID-19 pandemic on its head. Its creativity entertains, something other recent films set in the pandemic have failed to do. Furthermore, the film attempts to tackle mental health and human condition issues such as homelessness as well. However, sometimes juggling so many hard-hitting topics at once makes it difficult to stick the landing.
Kimi follows Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz), a young woman suffering the side effects of isolation due to the pandemic. She works as a voice-stream interpreter for The Amygdala Corporation, which markets a Siri-like virtual assistant aptly named “Kimi.” Her job duties include listening in on the seemingly nonstop commands that Kimi receives and then guiding the app in the right direction. However, while she managed to get the help she needs in the past, the pandemic causes her anxiety to spike. Additionally, key moments point to the main character suffering from the trauma of her past. Angela is a simple millennial attempting to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders when the unthinkable happens.
Soderbergh pays tribute to classic films such as Rear Window as Angela spends a lot of her time looking out a large window in her apartment. She observes the lives of those around her, focusing on one handsome young man, in particular, most mornings. However, while the seeds are subtly planted for Angela to witness some sort of disturbance through the window, it’s a clip of a woman’s scream while she works that sets the plot into motion. This causes Angela to come to the realization that Kimi must have somehow recorded the events of an incredibly violent crime. Unfortunately, when she tries to report what she heard, she is met with excuses and instructed to forget what she’s seen.
What Soderbergh and Koepp do well is highlight the moments of panic and confusion. They also capture the ugly reality of the world around us. Coverups and corruption are often swept under the rug in order to profit. The story swiftly turns from a relatable global shutdown flick to an absolutely gripping thriller as Angela forces herself to dig deep and discover the truth.
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Kimi explores the unfortunate downside of the incredible advancements of technology such as data mining and the invasion of privacy. Which makes sense. Soderbergh often attempts to shed some light on real-world issues and his latest endeavor is no different. Privacy lines blur when so many rely on the internet. Especially during the pandemic, folks lean on their smart devices to connect, learn, seek help, or even eat. However, while Angela faces overwhelming odds, her character and her choices feel incredibly human. She makes mistakes and battles personal demons on her way to doing the right thing. And that is quite possibly the most relevant talking point of the film. Well, that and the surprisingly tense third act.
With just shy of a 90-minute runtime, the relentless pacing of Kimi works in creating a bonafide top-notch thriller. The action never feels rushed and every decision made is justified. If Soderbergh set out to tell a story spotlighting the human spirit through unbelievable resourcefulness, he more than achieves his goal. Zoë Kravitz is a force to be reckoned with on the big screen as she adds yet stellar performance to her already impressive résumé. – Christian Hubbard
Kimi is streaming now on HBO Max!
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