An agoraphobic Seattle tech worker uncovers evidence of a crime.
Steven Soderbergh’s last 5 films have all bypassed cinemas and gone straight to streaming, and unlike most directors this doesn’t appear to have been a choice strictly driven by Covid. Perhaps the freedom granted by the likes of Netflix and HBO (where this has been released) is more suited to his style, which is evermore turning to sharp and pulpy thrillers such as this and ‘Unsane’ (which was his last cinema release). His latest movie is ‘Kimi’, a neat little tech thriller that feels like an update of ‘Rear Window’ for modern times. It follows an analyst who inadvertently discovers a murder whilst monitoring data streams from a ‘Kimi’ device (think Alexa), putting her straight in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy. Zoë Kravitz stars as the analyst at the centre of the story and it’s a really strong performance that powers ‘Kimi’ through its slick and fast paced 90 minute runtime.
The movie begins by introducing us to its titular character, the Kimi device, a smart speaker that uses human monitoring to improve its search algorithm. One of those analysts monitoring conversations is Angela (Kravitz), a sufferer of agoraphobia who is mostly confined to her Seattle apartment, with Covid exacerbating her condition (interestingly, this is one of most organic uses of Covid-19 to add to a film/tv plot I’ve seen thus far). Almost all of her contact with others is through video calls, with the exception of her neighbour Terry (Byron Bowers), who she waves at across the street and occasionally invites round for sex. Her discovery of the murder forces her out of her apartment as she tries to alert her company about the crime, however with an IPO looming, those at the top have their own reasons for keeping this crime quiet.
Soderbergh is a fine director and his economical filmmaking is used to great effect here, with not a moment wasted as the narrative hurtles along. It builds the story nicely with the ‘Rear Window’-esque setup before ramping up the pace once Angela leaves her apartment, with some neat directing techniques emphasising how the outside world heightens her anxieties. The story feels particularly chilling and relevant in a world where the power and influence wielded by large tech firms is immense, and despite its pulpy narrative it doesn’t feel completely farfetched.
‘Kimi’ is a cracking little thriller and an excellent showcase for Zoë Kravitz, showing us that Steven Soderbergh remains a director very capable of delivering quality entertainment – whether you’re watching at home or in a cinema.
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, Byron Bowers, Devin Ratray, India de Beaufort, Emily Kuroda, Jaime Camil, Alex Dobrenko, Andy Daly, Robin Givens, Erika Christensen and Derek DelGaudio