The $65-billion Ponzi scheme run by Wall Street luminary Bernie Madoff claimed many victims.
Widows, in-laws and even Holocaust survivors were bilked out of their life savings in one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history.
When Madoff was thrown in prison in 2009, the media and public wanted reparations, if not blood, looking to his family for restitution.
But if you’re to believe HBO’s drama “The Wizard of Lies,” which premieres Saturday, Madoff’s sons and wife were also victims of his deception — and paid dearly for his sins (The film is TV’s second Madoff-centered project. ABC in February 2016 aired the original movie “Madoff,” starring Richard Dreyfuss.)
Based on a book of the same name by New York Times financial reporter Diana Henriques, the Barry Levinson-directed film, which is a little over two hours, opens in 2008, when Madoff (Robert De Niro) admits to sons Mark and Andrew (Alessandro Nivola and Nathan Darrow) that he’s been moving money around in a billion-dollar shell game.
Despite the fact they also work in the same Wall Street firm as their father, they appear utterly blindsided by his admission.
Ruth (Michelle Pfeiffer), Madoff’s wife of 50 years, is also flummoxed, apparently so removed from her husband’s misdeeds — and the world he works in — she doesn’t even know what the term “Ponzi scheme” means.
It’s a level of cluelessness that’s as hard to believe now as it was in 2009, when Madoff was sent to prison on a 150-year sentence.
But “The Wizard of Wall Street” isn’t about getting to the truth (did they or didn’t they know?). It’s about the broken family bonds behind the scandal.
The Madoffs were already a dysfunctional lot before the FBI…