To be fair, this extraordinary cast was no doubt in part lured in by the extraordinary nature of the story, which arrives on Sky Atlantic this June. Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme ruined many lives and wracked in an estimate $64.8 billion in fraudulent gains.
Based on New York Times journalist Diane Henrique's account of the Madoff affair, The Wizard of Lies focuses on the impact Bernie's behaviour had on his immediate family, in particular his wife Ruth (Michelle Pfeiffer) and his sons Mark and Andrew (Alessandro Nivola and Nathan Darrow).
This is from the only drama to try to make financial crimes and crashes more relatable. There's Gold and Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short to name a few – and even last year's mini-series on TV Madoff.
HBO's version take on the Bernie Madoff has been to turn him into a self-deluding monster, incapable of real understanding or empathy, determined to think of his victims as 'greedy' and more guilty than he. The impact his stupidity/selfishness/genius, whatever you want to call it, has had on his family is the real story. The infighting, the isolation, the lies and the trickery.
Michelle Pfeiffer and De Niro are wonderful, but the film demands too much sympathy for monstrous characters we have no right falling in love with. Don't be tempted to sympathise too with the devil.
Wizard of Lies airs on Sky Altantic 1 June 9pm
|What||Wizard of Lies, Sky Atlantic review|
|Where||Sky Atlantic | MAP|
01 Jun 17 – 31 Jul 17, Wizard of Lies premiers on Sky Atlantic on 1 June at 9pm