Steven Soderbergh's New Film 'Kimi' is Inspired By 'The Conversation,' 'Rear Window,' and 'Panic Room'

Steven Soderbergh‘s new crime movie No Sudden Move just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and arrives on HBO Max tonight, but the famously busy filmmaker is already hard at work on his next movie for the streaming service, a tech thriller called Kimi that stars Zoë Kravitz in the lead role. In a new interview, Soderbergh gives some additional details about the movie, confirming that it’s essentially a 2021 riff on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 masterpiece The Conversation, and citing some other inspirations along the way.

What is Kimi About?

In just the past five years, Soderbergh has directed six movies, a full season of a television show, and executive produced the Oscars (in the middle of a pandemic, no less). The man likes to work, and he’s already busy with his next film – Kimi, which stars Kravitz as “an agoraphobic tech worker who discovers recorded evidence of a violent crime during an ordinary data stream review and tries reporting it up the chain of command at her company. Meeting with resistance and bureaucracy, she realizes that in order to get involved, she will have to do the thing she fears the most — leave her apartment.”

On the latest episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the host pointed out that as opposed to the period setting of No Sudden Move, Kimi will be set in present day, and he asked if the pandemic was a factor in the film’s narrative. “The aftermath of [COVID-19] is an aspect of the story,” Soderbergh answered. “So there’s that, because it ties into certain psychological issues that our lead character is battling.” That makes it sound like this new film could be in the vein of something like his previous work in Unsane or Side Effects, which also grappled with issues of the mind.

Kimi Influences

While filling in some additional plot details, Soderbergh brought up a few other comparison points as well. “Overlaid is a very contemporary, zeitgeist-y issue of giant tech companies who have a lot of listening devices in a lot of homes,” he said of the film’s story. “What are they picking up? What if you worked for one of these companies analyzing streams that have been flagged for some reason or another, that the voice recognition software – there’s some aspect of this recording that it doesn’t understand or it has a question about, and it gets kicked to a human analyst to listen to it. So they can go, ‘Oh, that’s a slang term that this thing hasn’t heard of. Now I’ve got to load it into the system so the software can now recognize [it].’ This is what this person’s job is. And she hears something that sounds not cool…[It’s] pretty much [the 2021 version of The Conversation], and a little bit of Rear Window, and a little bit of Panic Room. So it’s all my favorite stuff.”

Soderbergh is an incredibly savvy filmmaker and someone who keeps his finger on the pulse of the industry, so he knows as well as anyone that this type of premise was recently explored to disastrous results in Joe Wright’s The Woman in the Window, which starred Amy Adams. I trust Soderbergh to not fall into the same traps as that film, and here’s hoping that the cast he’s gathered for this one – including In and Of Itself star Derek DelGaudio – are given more to do than the impressive supporting cast of The Woman in the Window.

“[Kimi] was an idea that [Jurassic Park screenwriter] David Koepp floated to me a couple years ago,” Soderbergh said, explaining how he got involved with this project in the first place. “My philosophy when people approach you with things is: if it’s not a ‘hell yeah,’ it’s a ‘no.’ This was a “’hell yeah.’ At the point he told me the story, I wanted him to start immediately. But he eventually got around to it.”

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