11 February 2016 | vchimpanzee
Fine job, especially by Dreyfuss
I didn't know that much about Bernie Madoff, except that he had supposedly cheated people out of millions of dollars. Actually, it was billions.
But right away Richard Dreyfuss made this supposedly evil man look like a great guy. You have to like him. He had his clients' best interests at heart, but he knew what he was doing would be frowned on by the SEC and the federal government. And yet he had been doing this since the 1960s--making big money for people regardless of what the market was doing.
And it became quickly apparent that Bernie cared about his family. A loving wife who had only a vague idea that her husband's dealings weren't quite legal. Two sons, one more uptight than the other, who like Sgt. Schultz knew NOTHING (at least that's how the movie portrays it). A brother who has some knowledge that Bernie's activities aren't what they should be, but is kept pretty much out of the picture.
Dreyfuss does a fantastic job. I might even say Emmy-worthy. Most of the time Bernie is quite charming and a good guy. He can get quite angry when pushed. Knowing investigators are this close to putting him away, he seems quite vulnerable. And this last part is shown quite effectively with rapid-fire editing. The sound stays consistent but we keep seeing the nightmare Bernie thinks is coming, or flashbacks, or whatever, in addition to what is happening now. And this editing technique is used several times.
Michael Rispoli is very good as the man in charge of the 17th floor. I should mention that the legitimate business operated from fabulous modern offices where everyone dressed for success on the 19th floor, where the employees included the brother and two sons. Mark resented that Frank got the promotion he deserved, but Bernie would not let his sons get mixed up in the illegal activities on the dark, depressing 17th floor where it was always Casual Friday.
Ben Dreyfuss effectively showed us a charming and ambitious but not particularly endearing young Bernie in flashbacks. He showed how Benrie learned to do what he did.
Blythe Danner is a loving, caring wife, until ... and then wait until you see what she's like. A very good job with a wide range of emotions.
Erin Cummings is impressive as the loyal secretary. She seems out of place with the New Yawk accent in these plush offices, but she is quite appealing.
Peter Scolari used to be so funny, but he's mostly serious here, which he has become good at in recent years. He really shows his ability when brother Peter's son gets very sick, and Peter starts feeling guilty about what he knows he has done wrong. And we have to go through the hard times with the family.
There are happy times with the family as well, which makes up for the difficulties.
But of course watching Bernie wine and dine and otherwise impress his billionaire clients (soon to be broke in some cases) is lots of fun. One of them is in West Palm Beach and the big band music in the scenes there is great.
Frank Whaley is the man who started the process of bringing down Bernie Madoff. Since some situations and people are fictional, we don't know if he's real or not, but it doesn't matter. He is a brilliant investigator who lacks people skills and is often quite nervous. People don't take him seriously, and even when they do, Bernie has the ability to talk himself out of the situation.
Or government officials are just morons. It doesn't matter. It's all quite entertaining. You want Bernie to win, but you know something is bound to happen.
And when it does, it really does. There goes that rapid-fire editing again, this time with the sound matching the visuals.
In one sequence the people are either real victims of Bernie Madoff or they are very good actors.
Also effective is the apparent use of real ABC News anchors reporting on the scandal.
Dreyfuss appeared on the TV screen during the closing credits, at least when I watched, to invite us to watch the real story coming up next, and to praise the talented actors and writers whose work we just saw, and I agree with him.
Like him or not, I think this movie is a winner.