Coming to Bluray from director Barry Levinson and HBO Home Entertainment is an inside look at corruption and destruction with WIZARD OF LIES.
Bernie Madoff (Robert De Niro) had one of the biggest businesses on Wall Street. Known for being a wizard of making money, people from all walks of life put their life savings into investments. Along with sons Mark (Alessandro Nivola) and Andrew (Nathan Darrow), they were living the life of success.
That is until Bernie must tell his family that the FBI is investigating the business for fraud. This sets in motion a rush to see who will get the information needed or destroy the information first as the FBI raid the offices. Frank DiPascali (Hank Azaria) makes an effort to get to the 17th floor first!
As the SEC begin their intense investigation, family, co-workers and investors begin to tell their story of how Bernie brought them all in to the business. Now called the worst Ponzi scheme in American history there is over $50 billion (yes, that billion with a ‘b’) in other people’s money gone.
Bernie doesn’t seem to understand the predicament he is in as wife Ruth (Michelle Pfeiffer) begins to see her family unravel. Mark and Andrew have all but stopped talking to their parents and brother Peter (Michael Kostroff) is make it clear to authorities that he knew nothing of what Bernie had been doing.
When the news catches wind of the story, every person who has ever invested with Madoff comes to the realization that their lives have been destroyed. Bernie and Ruth try to decide how to get free of it all in the most dramatic way possible and his sons are bombarded by the press with the allegation that they knew everything.
As the evidence mounts, there is only one thing Bernie Madoff can do, plead guilty and go to jail. Thinking that will stop everything from reaching his family, he couldn’t be more wrong as Ruth, Mark and Andrew continue to be affected by the lies Bernie told for almost twenty years.
This is the story of one man’s lies to the ruin of lives.
De Niro as Bernie Madoff is amazing to the point where I forgot it was him behind the makeup. The fascinating part of his portrayal of this man is how Madoff can not seem to grasp what he had done. There are moments where I kept saying out loud ‘you’ve got to be kidding me man!’ when he would seem to play innocent. That’s what De Niro does for a character that had me so involved in the story what I’m yelling at a man playing the character of a man I’ll never meet. Frakken awesome!
Pfeiffer as Ruth is a woman who can not even imagine that a man she spent most of her life living with was capable of such a thing. Becoming comfortable in the life that Bernie provided, she can not wrap her head around how deep the affect might be. When it all comes down fast, Pfeiffer just brings on the sadness, sass and pain that came hard. Playing opposite De Niro, she is definitely an equal partner in making this story line work.
Nivola as Mark is a son who just wanted to be a part of his father’s business. Constantly told by his father that he isn’t ready, it all begins to make sense when the FBI steps in. The bigger problem is that Mark can not get past what his father did and the public fallout. It begins to become an obsession that is tragic.
Darrow as Andrew knows the only way to get away from what his father has done is by totaling cutting his parents out. Keeping his family safe from the government and the public means doing what ever he must to set things as right as they can be.
Other cast include Kathrine Narducci as Eleanor Squillari, Steve Coulter as Martin London, David Lipman as Martin Flumenbaum, Kelly AuCoin as Agent Cacioppi, Amanda Warren as the SEC Investigator, Mark La Mura as Ike Sorkin, Kristen Connolly as Stephanie Madoff and Lily Rabe as Catherine Hooper.
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The WIZARD OF LIES Bluray includes the Bonus Features of In-Depth Interviews with stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer plus director Barry Levinson and author Diana B. Henriques. I highly suggest giving this extra a look-see!
WIZARD OF LIES is a compelling look at the story of Bernie Madoff with its twists and turns. The addition of the jail house interview with Diana B. Henriques who wrote Wizard of Lies: Bernard Madoff and the Death of Trust, adds such authenticity and draws the viewer in immediately. I have to say that I was so wrapped up in De Niro and Pfeiffer’s performances that I reacted strongly to the entire film.
Having a look inside the family there is honestly nothing that surprised me in their handling of the situation. How does a family deal with knowing that their lives and everything they believed they have worked for is all a lie? The man they trusted to lead them is a lie? I can not even imagine it.
The script written by Sam Levinson, who also wrote and directed ANOTHER HAPPY DAY, and directed by his father Barry Levinson is well done and shot beautifully. I would expect no less from the Levinson group.
In the end – only those you trust can truly betray you!