The real-life lawyers played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas don’t like how they’re portrayed in the new Steven Soderbergh film.
In Steven Soderbergh’s ripped-from-the-headlines “The Laundromat,” Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas play lawyers who, according to the Panama Papers document leak, allegedly helped the mega-rich stash billions in offshore accounts to evade taxes. The real-life lawyers, Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, are under federal indictment — but they don’t like how they’re portrayed on screen. They’re suing distributor Netflix to stop it from releasing the film this week.
The suit isn’t fazing Netflix: a source close to the production confirmed the streamer still plans to drop the movie on its platform Friday.
A Netflix representative referred a reporter to court documents when reached for comment. The streamer on Wednesday asked a judge to dismiss the suit, on grounds that the Connecticut federal court was an improper venue.
The 11.5 million documents that make up the Panama Papers were leaked anonymously in 2016 to media outlets. They linked one of the largest offshore law firms, Mossack Fonseca, to world leaders who used accounts and shell companies to shelter billions from taxes.
The darkly comedic “The Laundromat,” which screened at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, follows Meryl Streep as a vacationer who finds herself chasing the origins of a fake insurance policy, leading her to Mossack Fonseca. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn in his B review described the film as “money-laundering for dummies” thanks to its fourth-wall-breaking explanations about shell companies, corporate tax laws, and offshore accounts.
In their quest to have the film shelved, Mossack and Fonseca sued Netflix in a Connecticut federal court Tuesday. They allege that the film is defamatory because it portrays them as villains, and infringes on their copyright because it uses their law firm’s logo. Mossack Fonseca & Co. announced in March 2018 that the law firm would close in the face of economic and reputational damage
According to the suit, the film shows “clips of people connected to (the firm’s) offshore accounts and/or purported clients exclaim ‘shit’ and/or other expletives in different languages, including an English-speaking lady at a bar, a gentleman dressed in garb resembling a Sheik, two Russian gangsters, and the wife of a Chinese politician driving by some soldiers. The viewer is meant to associate Mossack and Fonseva with these tax evading, money laundering, and otherwise criminal ‘culprits.’”
Lawyers for Mossack and Fonseca argue that reviews of “The Laundromat” back up their claims, including this excerpt from the Los Angeles Times: “In a movie with more than a few false aliases, it spoils nothing to point out that Banderas and Oldman are in fact playing the firm’s chief partners, Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack (which partly explains Oldman’s comically exaggerated German accent)”