Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, India de Beaufort, Emily Kuroda, Byron Bowers
Run Time: 89 mins
Kimi is the latest by director Steven Soderbergh, whose enjoyed an incredibly varied career in terms of the genres he has worked in. This action thriller follows Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz), an agoraphobe whose previously been the victim of assault and her anxiety has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. She is an employee of a tech company called Amygdala, who have pioneered a smart speaker called Kimi that controversially makes use of human monitoring to improve its algorithm and deliver a better user experience.
Angela monitors incoming data streams and makes corrections to Kimi’s software. One day, she picks up on a disturbing stream that appears to portray a sexual assault and when she tries to report it to her superiors at Amygdala, things go, well, pear-shaped.
Kimi is an efficient, mostly one-location thriller with a terrific central performance from Kravitz. Its first two acts are its best, with Soderbergh excellently capturing and exploring Angela’s agoraphobia, and there are clear parallels to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. In many ways, it’s a modern update for the Alexa-owning, coronavirus pandemic generation. The script is sleek and plays to writer David Koepp’s strengths who’s proved himself in this genre before with films such as Panic Room and Secret Window. The third act leans more into action, which I found less interesting, although still rather enjoyable and the film doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Soderbergh (working under his usual alias of Peter Andrews) also acts as the cinematographer for Kimi and his work is impressive. He deftly captures Angela’s luxurious and extravagant apartment, making her enclosed world feel much larger than it really is. Scenes outside of the apartment are shot in a disorienting and kaleidoscopic manner, which are thrilling and clearly portray Angela out of her depth, as if her head is spinning.
Kimi is a minor entry in Soderbergh’s back catalogue but he clearly seems to be revelling in the journey, even if the film isn’t particularly deep. This is an effective and taut thriller that has something to say.