In the late 2000’s during The Great Recession, businessman/founder of the Wall Street firm, Bernie Madoff was arrested for organizing the largest Ponzi Scheme worth $64 billion dollars. Perhaps the biggest fraudulent scheme in criminal history.
In 2015, HBO wanted to develop a television film about Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme that led him to his downfall. HBO hired Barry Levinson, (Good Morning Vietnam, Rain Man) to direct the picture. The premium channel found the right actors including Robert De Niro (known for collaborating with Martin Scorsese) as Bernie Madoff, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff.
Two years later, the film aired on May 20, 2017. It received mostly positive reviews and a grand total of 1.5 million viewers who tuned in to watch the movie. Making the premium channel the largest viewership for a TV related film outside of original television shows.
This TV movie went on to become an eligible nominee for Best TV Movie for the upcoming 69th Emmy Awards receiving four nominations including Best Actor for De Niro, Best Actress for Pfeiffer, Best Cast In A Limited Series Or Movie, and Best Television Movie.
I wanted to write about this nominated TV film is because I want to spread the word around for everybody to prep up on Emmy’s, which will air in September 17.
This article contains SPOILERS. Let’s be honest, we all know what’s happens ever since mass media across the country announced his imprisonment.
Positive: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Hank Aszaria did a fantastic job on their performances.
Cinematography felt normal.
Makeup Department did a great job on applying Prosthetic Makeup on De Niro to resemble Madoff.
The film is told through flashbacks on Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme and his arrest before his life long sentence. Pay attention to the flashbacks because this is told in a non-linear sequence. It looks like something Christopher Nolan would do.
One scene shows a montage of people whom Madoff screwed over their money.
An Easter Egg featuring Madoff watching the Judy Garland classic, Meet Me In St. Louis. De Niro worked with Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli in Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York. Speaking of Garland, the title for the movie is a pun on The Wizard Of Oz.
After Madoff is sentenced to prison. Most of his assets have been taken.
Madoff pleads himself guilty on a bunch of fraud related crimes.
Negative: An extreme close-up shot on one person. If they kept doing this technique, I would’ve given it one big negative point.
The film kinda felt underwhelming.
At the very end of the film, there’s no where are they now or a disclaimer on the aftermath.
The movie could’ve been better by showing Madoff’s early career and how he was able to hire his sons in the family business.
The Final Verdict: B-
In my opinion, it felt alright. Not on the same level of pure excellence, just another ok film, but it ain’t that bad at all. If you’re interested in real life events adapted into films, give this one a try.