Movie Kimi: A Slick Thriller Capturing The Pandemic Lockdown Times!

For the first time I have had the pleasure of watching a movie that strives to capture the pandemic or lockdown-era hassles and problems. Filmmakers the world over in a film industry that has taken the pandemic hit most painfully, wouldn’t like their heroes or heroines masked-up after trying hard to realize the movie at last. However, in this Hitchcockian a thriller titled Kimi that was released by HBO MAX on 10th February and now streaming on Amazon Prime Video too, we find the female protagonist masked up in the most crucial scenes outside of her home in Seattle. The movie is directed, edited and photographed by Steven Soderbergh, a renowned filmmaker of Hollywood who, at 26 years of age, became the youngest director to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival for his debut film Sex, Lies and Video Tapes (1989) and the film was both a commercial success and critically acclaimed; he earned the Oscar for Best Director for Traffic (2000); and then created the immensely popular The Ocean’s Franchise starting with The Ocean’s Eleven (2001). It is also heartening trend to note that such a stalwart director should make movies for streaming platforms. Kimi is produced by New Line Cinema, Warner Bros Pictures.


The story of Kimi is grounded entirely on the female protagonist Angela Childs, played brilliantly by Zoe Kravitz, whose agoraphobia gets aggravated by a previous assault (not shown in the movie), the pandemic and lockdowns, her continuous work-from-home as a tech executive with only her laptop, mobile and other gadgets for company. She panics and shudders at the idea of going out of home; she works on her gadgets, particularly ordering the Kimi for every action, the smart digital assistant like that of Siri in Apple and Alexa in Amazon; she does workouts, picks her ailing teeth daily and gazes often out of the window taking in the movements of persons inside various surrounding apartments; she talks to her mother or co-workers virtually; and invites her boyfriend cum neighbor Terry (Byron Bowers) for an occasional fling. She violently resists any request from anyone asking her to visit them, let it be her dentist or colleagues. Her lonely existence goes on till something happens that forced her to come out of home.


The first scene of the movie shows the CEO (Bradley Hasling, played by Derek DelGaudio) of a tech corporation called Amygdala, interviewed by a TV channel for his forthcoming IPO. He explains the smart speaker device of Kimi that works on voice commands and involves human monitoring of the incoming data streams from Kimi users. The CEO says that the device is working very well among the users and that he expects millions from the initial IPO issue.


Angela Childs works for Amygdala and monitors all the incoming streams from users taking further measures whenever necessary to improve the experience. One day she picks up a stream where loud music is playing, but in-between she hears a women’s screams. She starts editing the stream, minimizing the music and concentrating on the voices. Getting convinced that that stream could possibly involve a violent sexual crime against the woman she talks to a co-worker and wants him to give her the full streams of that user. The co-worker gives her an admin code with which she could enter the data zone of Amygdala and get what she wanted.


Angela succeeds in getting all the Kimi recordings and the final video stream, and is horrified to find a murder of the user woman being committed. Shaking all over she speaks to her boss, the CEO, for necessary action. He tries to evade and refers her to a senior Amygdala executive Natalie Chowdhury (played by Rita Wilson). After Angela’s several attempts to reach her, finally Natalie calls her and convinces her to come over to her office, further assuring her that her disclosure would be done in the presence of an FBI officer. So, Angela moves out of home at last and what happens afterwards is a sequence of events leading to a shattering climax.


Zoe Kravitz portrays the character of Angela Childs as effectively as Soderbergh visualizes. She behaves weird and shouts often indoor; shakes all over violently in sudden panic; is extremely fastidious like taking out the pillow covers and bedsheet in the very presence of her boyfriend Terry after the act was done; and while outdoor she is masked up and covered from head to foot, walks with her head lowered, stops suddenly in corners, walks like in dazed huddle. However, the string of terrifying happenings awakens her energy and she fights for survival gallantly. Soderbergh did not make any special attempt to keep the suspense element sacrosanct, because during the very beginning of the film he reveals a vital clue for the viewers to remember.


The storytelling or the antics of the protagonist is entirely convincing and realistic. As is often observed by critics, suspense/mystery thrillers with a female protagonist are always convincing as to her acts or heroics while a male protagonist is always led to do the heroics of a different level, making us wonder at his superhero abilities. Steven Soderbergh, always committed to avant-garde arthouse approach despite his typically Hollywood subjects, delivers his punches everywhere in this pacey thriller, from the lingering camera work that captures his tacky character in the rather spacious apartment to the outdoor scenes where the hand-held camera just freaks out.


In all, Kimi is immensely watchable and enjoyable. It also satirically brings out the increasing dependence of modern humans on gadgets, devices and various digital platforms. All the keys-tapping, searching, surveillance and tracking which have been an inseparable part of almost all Hollywood films for quite a while now, are also here in this film; but with a kind of emphasis that can be safely called a warning.