Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi is a movie that spends half of its run time in the apartment of its protagonist Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz). One might easily draw parallels with Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Rear Window, in which Jimmy Stewart was an injured photographer stuck in his own apartment. I’m sure that’s what Soderbergh and writer David Koepp were going for. But unlike the disastrous The Woman in the Window, this one works.
Angela has become agoraphobic following an assault and after the Covid-19 pandemic has been living mostly in her apartment. She is too afraid even to go down to the meal truck that stops by every day to meet with a neighbor, Terry Hughes (Byron Bowers), who she has a sexual relationship with.
Another neighbor across the street, Kevin (Devin Ratray), has also been like Angela spending most of his days in doors but watching the events in the Seattle neighborhood from his window. And it’s not like Angela nor Kevin need to deal with the Rat Race. The pandemic gave birth to the advantage of remote work from home. Angela works from home monitoring data streams from Kimi (an Alexa-like device) that is owned and operated by Amygdala, a tech corporation which is soon to go public.
The following may be considered spoilers but Soderbergh doesn’t keep it a mystery as the first scene is Amygdala CEO Bradley Hasling (Derek DelGaudio) talking with a mysterious hitman, Rivas (Jaime Camill) about payment for when a hit is done. That hit is a violent sexual assault and murder on a woman, Samantha Gerrity (Erika Christensen). And because Samantha has a Kimi device, it records the incident. And Angela, a victim herself, hears it.
But is it really a fatal attack? Like The Conversation and Blow Out, the plot revolves around people not believing Angela or just thinking she’s over-reacting. There’s a brilliant scene in which Angela finally makes it out to go to the corporate office and talks with an executive, Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), in which you can sense the tension between the two. Natalie comes off first as too supportive but then quickly begins to question if she has the recording. And both Kravitz and Wilson play this scene and Soderbergh directs it where we know something is about to happen, but I won’t say what.
At the heart of the movie is issues about how people don’t trust women, especially if they have a history of previous trauma. As Angela tells Natalie, she said she was put on trial for being the victim. At the same time, it questions whether or not people who stay inside and rely too much on technology are living a healthy life or not. It’s obvious Angela and Terry have feelings for each other more than just being friends with benefits.
Also, do we rely too much on technology? There’s a sequence of Angela having so much of her daily routines connected to her Kimi device. About 40-50 years ago, this was considered science fiction. Dean Koontz wrote a book, Demon Seed that later became a movie, about an artificial intelligence computer imprisoning a woman in her own home. But does our technology imprison us without us knowing it? Angela, suffering from trauma, doesn’t want to leave her apartment. And when she does, you can tell she’s nervous with every step she makes on the outside. This works best on Kravitz’s performance as she walks around the Seattle area like a new kid at a new school, afraid to talk to anyone or look out of place.
While the third act practically devolves into a chase movie, Soderbergh and Koepp don’t drag it out too much as Angela tries to navigate her way back to her apartment. There’s a lot of tension and drama during this part.
At just 89 minutes with end credits, Kimi isn’t one minute longer than it should be. Not everything has to be two-and-a-half hours nowadays. Overall, it’s a tight little tense thriller with a good payoff.
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