'KIMI' Review: Steven Soderbergh's Anxiety Thriller That Stars Zoë Kravitz
One good thing about writing is that it doesn't trigger your sound devices in your home when it's most unfortunate or unnecessary, such is the case with the eponymous invention in KIMI from director-cinematographer-editor Steven Soderbergh (latter two job titles are under pseudonyms, by the way).
Living in Seattle, Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz) works for tech company Amygdala, which developed the smart speaker called Kimi, as a data analyst who solves its responses by listening to the recordings. One day she hears a disturbing argument in one of these, which she suspects is proof of a violent crime by someone influential. Bringing this to light turns out to be possibly harmful for the new company as it intends to go public, putting Angela under threat for having this proof. To make matters worse, Angela's agoraphobia has worsened during COVID-19 pandemic, which makes moving outside a real mental challenge.
In a bigger picture, the framework of KIMI isn't anything mind-blowing as it sits quite comfortably with other paranoia thrillers, though this one might not collect as much dust as a few of them. David Koepp's script doesn't try to reinvent the wheel and that's a good thing, instead it focuses on what's important and right in front of you. Angela has an urgent mission and a difficult hurdle to overcome, and their meeting point gets revealed later on as it relates to the character. Kravitz also sells it, which is impressive as she is mostly acting alone—that is if you don't count screens as her scene partners, of course. Kravitz and overall story have fun with the genre, which makes the film a really breezy watch, even if it doesn't reach its potential.
Some elements that are chipping away that potential are mostly in the crafts, like Soderbergh's odd fascination with Dutch angles that get very repetitive after the first couple which are there to showcase Angela's discomfort, they also don't play well with some of the stylish tracking shots that are more about the momentum and element of danger. Similarly overdone is the score by Cliff Martinez, which seems more like a mixtape of different cultures and genres, rather than accompanying Angela and her discoveries. Still, perhaps the most crucial and also innovative aspect is Victor J. Zolfo's set decor; it drives the plot with all its technology and tools (couple of them are well used in final showdown), colour palette's main colour in aqua blue has shades invoking calmness to invoking coldness of these corporations, and the red light of KIMI describes it as a menace in people's lives.
Smileys: Set decoration, screenplay, Zoë Kravitz
Frowneys: Score, cinematography
All this invasive technology, Kimi none of it.