Review: Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi is a crackling thriller – and an acting showcase for its star

KIMI (Steven Soderbergh). 89 minutes. Available to stream Thursday (February 10) on Crave. Rating: NNNN


Stuck in her loft after the lockdown retriggered the OCD and agoraphobia she was just getting under control, Seattle tech worker Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz) reports an assault she hears in the audio feed of a smart device – and finds herself at the centre of a dangerous corporate conspiracy.

Written by David Koepp in lo-fi Hitchcock mode, Kimi is a paranoid thriller for the age of COVID, filtering 70s classics like The Conversation, Three Days Of The Condor, The Parallax View and more through an entirely contemporary lens. Soderbergh knows the audience will be familiar with his chosen genre, and even bring certain expectations to it; his challenge is to figure out how to deal with those expectations, and find new ways to present familiar ideas.

If you enjoyed the snake-pit head games of Unsane and the classical criminal calculation of No Sudden Move (and I certainly did), then Kimi will offer some of the same pleasures, as Soderbergh – working once again as his own editor and cinematographer – situates the story in a recognizably uneasy post-pandemic world, with people masking up as needed, maintaining distance where possible and still carrying the tension of the last two years in their bodies.

Kravitz – who spends much of the film silent, masked or both – gives Angela a signature marching gait when she’s moving through public spaces, as if she’s trying to outrun both any lingering pathogens and her own panic. And in the film’s quieter moments, she conveys Angela’s shifting levels of unease and panic opposite a cast of character actors who pop in and out as the plot requires.

It’s swift and resourceful, like Soderbergh’s best pictures, but it’s no lightweight. When Kimi needs to get serious, it gets very serious indeed. There’s an abduction sequence that’s terrifying in its efficiency and timing, and some other climactic activity that’s carried out with both minimalist verve and a streak of dark comedy. No, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling any of it.

@normwilner

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