I’m starting to grow weary of pandemic-themed films, but “Kimi” is done so well that I can let just one more pass. This small-scale thriller is competently crafted by director Steven Soderbergh in a way that it’s not only intense, but it’s so clever that it never feels like it was made during a lockdown.
Agoraphobic Angela (Zoë Kravitz) is a voice stream interpreter for a major tech company in the Pacific Northwest, where she is tasked with listening to interactions recorded by Kimi, an Alexa-like home assistant device. Her job is easy to do from the confines of her apartment, allowing her condition to grow exponentially worse due to the COVID pandemic. Now she has an excuse not to leave home, and it’s taking a toll on her life.
It’s another routine morning for Angela when she hears something disturbing on a Kimi recording that she thinks is evidence a violent crime. When she immediately reports it to her boss, she is met with resistance that reaches all the way to the top rung of the corporate ladder.
It’s a good hook for a housebound thriller, even if it sometimes feels like a modern-day “Rear Window” rip-off (excuse me, homage). Soderbergh gives off just the right about of creep vibes, and the story is chilling in an age where humans are not only relying more on technological devices, but happily welcoming them into our homes under the guise of making our lives easier and better. But who is listening?
Kravitz lacks an electrifying star power quality, but she’s well cast and her performance is strong enough to carry the limited parameters of the story. She isn’t the most compelling character to watch, but Angela is relatable on the most basic level. It’s when she eventually leaves her apartment that the film starts to stumble.
There are so many ridiculous mistakes and missteps that Angela engages in (like not calling the police herself and running back to her own apartment when she’s being chased by bad guys with guns) which make absolutely zero sense because 99.999% of people would know to do these things if they ever found themselves in a similar situation. Because of this, it’s not easy to overlook the obvious plot devices (and the abrupt, disappointing ending), but you’ll have a lot more fun if you do.
“Kimi” at times can be a little absurd and very unrealistic but if you just go along with it, it’s also enjoyable.