Reviews, REVIEWS: Docs / Other films — November 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

REVIEW: The Wizard of Lies (2017)


By Tim Tal

It was only a matter of time before someone made a film on Bernie Madoff.

Madoff made a name for himself by ripping off other people, both rich and not so rich, but in the end, it all caught up with him. Madoff is a former stockbroker, investment advisor, and financier. He is the former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market. He’s also the one who operated a Ponzi scheme that was estimated to be $64.8 billion, based on the amounts in the accounts of Madoff’s nearly 5,000 clients.

Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960, and was its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008. The firm was one of the top market maker businesses on Wall Street, which bypassed “specialist” firms by directly executing orders over the counter from retail brokers.

On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies and admitted to turning his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme. The Madoff investment scandal defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. Madoff ended up being sentenced to 150 years in prison.

And the time came. Madoff was to be played by Robert De Niro himself.

The film starts off with Madoff confessing to his sons about the “big lie” and exposing his massive Ponzi scheme, leading up to the time when Madoff was put behind bars.

While being listed as a “TV movie” on IMDd, “Wizard of Lies” is one of the best latest works that De Niro has done. While some of his latest films are not exactly the films that the Robert De Niro we all know could be associated with, “Wizard of Lies” certainly is.

“Wizard of Lies” is a strong, quality, worthy and memorable addition to De Niro’s filmography, despite some minor flaws.

The rest of the cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Hank Azaria among others, and they all do a great job.

As for De Niro himself, it is safe to say he scored big on this one.

As per IMDb: “Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Diana Henriques was the first to interview Bernie Madoff on August 24, 2010, after his incarceration on June 29, 2009. She plays herself in various scenes throughout this movie interviewing Madoff (Robert De Niro), and has said that the resemblance was so uncanny, she got goosebumps just sitting opposite him.”

De Niro did a great job due to the fact that he worked in comfort. The film was directed by Barry Levinson (worked with De Niro before), Michelle Pfeiffer starred with De Niro in three movies prior, and Bernie Madoff himself – was a great character for De Niro to play.

The IMDb also says the film’s premiere drew 1.5 million viewers, making it HBO’s largest premiere viewership for an HBO film in four years; additional replays and viewings through the network’s streaming service brought the film’s total viewers to 2.4 million for its premiere weekend.

In the end, when Madoff wonders how people could compare him to serial killer Ted Bundy, it makes you wonder – who’s the bigger evil of the two. There is no answer, since both are different types of evil. Those who at least once lost money on bad investments, and of course including all of Madoff’s victims – know what it means.


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