Review of the Netflix Film Worth written by Max Borenstein and directed by Sara Colangelo rating **** 1/2
This film proves that you don’t have to have a big budget and special effects to tell a compelling story. Michael Keaton plays Ken Feinberg, the lawyer tasked with administrating the victim’s compensation fund for family members of those lost on September 11.
It starts with Ken and his law firm taking on the task pro bono. He’s not out to take advantage of the situation. At first, it seems like a relatively cut and dry problem. You take a person’s current income projected over their expected lifetime, and you come up with a number of that person’s financial worth. The loss to a family member whose wife or husband was a CFO making 750,000 a year is worth more than someone who lost their retired father living on social security. It’s not the first time lawyers have had to deal with this type of situation. There have been other incidents involving victim’s compensation funds. It doesn’t take long, however, to realize it’s not quite as simple as looking at a table of numbers to find out what your loved one is worth.
People at the low end of the payout rightly argue that their loved ones meant just as much to them as those looking at receiving much higher amounts. Other issues arise. What about domestic partners who are not legally married? What about illegitimate children? How do you handle first responders suffering from health problems due to the effects of toxic dust?
Family members of 9/11 victims had three years to decide to either accept the government’s offer or join a class-action lawsuit. As the deadline nears, only 1200 families out of 7,000 families agree to the payout. Something has to change. At that point, Ken Feinberg realizes that trying to fit everyone into a spreadsheet isn’t the way to go about it. Instead, he decides to hold private meetings with family members and treat each case individually.
I don’t know if this film had a theatrical run. I’m guessing if it did, it was limited. But that doesn’t matter. It’s a story worth telling, especially with the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. It’s the number two movie on Netflix. It’s worth your time.