Soderbergh’s surveillance thriller is a smart reimagining of Blow Out placed within a covid conscious context.
In many ways, Kimi is much concerned with ‘the now’: Whether it be the pandemic-routed anxiety which is careful explored through the lens of Zoe Kravitz’s Angela or the moral decomposition of big tech and the rife corruption which spawns from the foul play by the key players at the top. Though it’s themes clearly bridge between the ‘typical’ and the ‘audacious’ ,Kimi manages to fire on a cylinders regardless in a way which is fresh and surprisingly non-pandering. This notion amalgamates from its clever script along side the technical ability on display which further enhances the commentarial aspects of the picture.
The story follows Angela Childs, who works from her apartment for an AI assistant device known as Kimi. When she hears a murder play out on from one of her client’s devices, she takes it upon herself to try and get to the bottom of the case all whilst dealing with both the hardships of her own psychology as well as a much more menacing and all too real threat. The covid setting on the surface seems like a certain ‘eye-roll’ motif but the way it is interwoven throughout the narrative in both an allegorical and literal sense is rather creative. To elaborate, Soderbergh ensures that the film does not get bogged down by this established context by ensuring that its representation of such is not done in a way which detracts the story but only enhances it. The paranoia and antagonisation of the outside world and the comfortability of the interior is perfectly reflected in an almost double entendre situation. Sure, they are sensations we have grown to adapt to throughout months locked indoors but its framing of such is more attributed to Child’s agoraphobia than the collective consensus of a disgruntled public.
The cinematography throughout Kimi is well executed with the hostility of each of Angela’s environments evident throughout the ways in which the camera reacts with its stimuli. The wide shots of Angela’s apartment makes us feel that the environment is hugging her – ensuring her everything is okay meanwhile her rare ventures into the outside world come with much more frantic and irritated shots which sometimes feel down right scary. These anxieties of the outside world are only build upon further by the superb sound design which makes the outdoors feel like an attack on the senses – with the collages of noise layering and layering subsequently burying Angela beneath them.
Kimi is very smart with its tonal shifts. Moments of comedy come and go with much of it being attributed to the smart writing gags which toy with the reliability of a pandemic stricken world as well as Kravitz’s charisma which brings a deadpan yet charming element to Angela’s characterisation. The film is not a comedy however as nail-biting moments of terror are scattered all throughout. The actual murder is a very disturbing listen – though the visualisation of such event added little ground to the effect already conveyed within the audio. The mind’s conjuration of horrific imagery upon hearing the devastating sounds are what made the murder itself so intriguing so when the actual event is later shown, we feel stripped of this ability to build upon the ambiguity.
Nevertheless, the rest of the film is rather excellent with minor gripes being much overshadowed by the sheer quality of the film’s merits. A must watch indeed.