KIMI – Review by Susan Granger

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Evoking memories of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, Steven Soderbergh’s low-budget techno-thriller revolves around a next-generation virtual assistant, like Siri and Alexa, but named Kimi.

Paranoid Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz – with blue, blunt-cropped hair) is a tech analyst, working remotely from her sprawling Seattle loft/apartment for Amygdala Corporation, headed by Bradley Hasling (illusionist Derek DelGaudio).

Since she’s agoraphobic, she spends a great deal of time looking out of the window. So do her nosy neighbors. There’s Terry (Byron Bowers) from across the street who makes periodic booty calls and creepy Kevin (Devin Ratray), armed with binoculars

Angela keeps in touch by telephone with her mother (Robin Givens) and telemedicine therapist (Emily Kuroda), both of whom urge her to try to leave her barricaded sanctuary, having endured two Covid-induced lockdowns – even if it’s only to visit the dentist.

One day, while routinely monitoring voice-activated data streams for possible glitches, Angela hears someone yelling in distress. Like John Travolta in Blow Out, she adjusts the audio element to eliminate the blaring music and identify a terrified woman (Erika Christensen) experiencing a sexual assault that leads to murder.

With the help of Darius (Alex Dobrenko), a tech problem-solver in Romania, Angela traces the suspicious data stream to its user. When she reports overhearing the violent crime to Amygdala’s ‘organic interpolations’ officer, Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson) that alert triggers threatening reprisals from within the corporate hierarchy.

Scripted by David Koepp (Panic Room), it’s tautly directed by Steven Soderbergh (Let Them All Talk, No Sudden Move), who doubles as his own cinematographer (using the pseudonym of Peter Andrews) and editor (using the pseudonym of Mary Ann Bernard). And Kimi is voiced by Betsy Brantley, Soderbergh’s ex-wife.

FYI: The amygdala is the part of our brain that processes fear.

Once again, we’re reminded that the communication technology in our ever-present devices has systematically usurped our right to privacy.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Kimi is a slyly slick, surveillance 6, streaming on HBO Max.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.