The fall of Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme robbed $65 billion from unsuspecting victims; the largest fraud in U.S. history.The fall of Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme robbed $65 billion from unsuspecting victims; the largest fraud in U.S. history.The fall of Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme robbed $65 billion from unsuspecting victims; the largest fraud in U.S. history.
The film begins with an interview between Madoff and the subsequent author of his unofficial biography. He begins telling the story at the end of the meltdown on the eve of his arrest and starts from there. From here on out, we're told the story in chunks and pieces, from one perspective to another and totally abandons all formality regarding coherent storytelling. Instead, Levinson creates a deeply personal character study that paints Madoff as a sociopath and a white collar criminal mastermind who would rather blame the victim than himself. While it is engrossing to see De Niro as Madoff, it is barely enough to sustain its bloated runtime.
The film is engrossing to watch. There's no denying it but as the minutes ticked by, it all started to feel redundant. It was more so just dragging the entire Madoff family through hell for the remaining hour of the film and it becomes exhausting after awhile. In a way it was very much a Greek tragedy of epic proportions that just didn't seem to end and by the time it decided it wanted to, you were already checked out 10 minutes prior. Despite this, the ending is satisfying for those wanting to see karma at its best or a tragedy at its worst, whatever way you want to look at it.
Overall, The Wizard of Lies is a missed opportunity more so than not. While it is great to see De Niro and Pfeiffer in top forms, it would have been nice to get a more coherent script from a story that literally writes itself. While anyone expecting a film in the vein of The Big Short will be let down by this, The Wizard of Lies benefits from being a deep character study that shines a (small) light of one of the most tragic mysteries of the 2008 financial crisis.
- May 21, 2017