Unraveled (2012)

Badly flawed

Content written by Tony Macklin. Originally published on April 24, 2012 on tonymacklin.net.

Unraveled is a con job.

It has the clammy hands of its crooked main figure all over it.

Unraveled is a documentary, directed by entertainment attorney and filmmaker Marc H. Simon, about Marc Dreier, who bilked hedge funds and other clients of multi-millions.

It was shot in Dreier's penthouse on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, where Dreier was under house arrest for 60 days awaiting sentencing for his ugly fraud.

In Unraveled it's obvious that Dreier is pulling the strings, making himself into a good guy who just did irrational things in defrauding clients. At one point, he actually says, "I did a lot of good things over the years."

It was no whim that Dreier granted access to Simon; Simon worked at Dreier LLP from 2003 to 2008. Simon has admitted that Dreier was his "boss and mentor."

Who better than Simon to cleanse the truth and sanitize his old colleague?

When Simon asks a question about Dreier's family, Dreier says, "I don't want to talk about it." When Simon at least tries to follow up about his mother, Dreier says, "I'm not going to talk about my family." That's it.

Dreier mentions "my kids." But from the film we don't even know he has a daughter.

In the movie, his son Spencer has conversations with his dad, but when Simon talks to Spencer alone, we see his father hovering in the doorway listening. Nothing is going to get past the old man.

Then there's the dog, the one character with personality in the movie. There's nothing better than a doggie to get sympathy. The cute black pooch appears more than 15 different times.

He's no Uggie - in fact, he remains nameless. Dreier just calls him, "the dog." But he says, "He's been my best friend." Aww. I just hope he wasn't a rental.

Who is more Dreier's dog - the nameless pup or director Simon?

Simon once was asked by a journalist, if Dreier had ever asked him his opinion about his fate. Simon answered, "Marc never asked me what I thought." Of course not. He told you.

The litany of blame is laughable. Dreier blames divorce, opportunity, the cultural climate, desperation, and - get this - the movies.

Harsh words roll easily off Dreier's tongue: "deplorable," "illegality," "scam," "charade," and "contemptible." They lose their value.

How do you make greed and chutzpah boring? In Unraveled, Dreier is almost an empty t-shirt. He never shows anger or passion. He eats pizza, watches Jeopardy on tv, and reads newspapers. What a regular guy.

Ultimately, in Unraveled Marc Dreier is a once-rich, criminal bore.

Director Simon uses occasional animation, which is merely a gimmick - tricked-up style.

One wishes that Simon had given Lewis Black a mere two minutes. He would have blown Dreier off the screen. Instead Dreier sits calmly in comfortable control.

Unraveled is a prime example of why one sometimes should be skeptical of a documentary.


You might be interested in reading my most recent reviews, all of my reviews from this year, or all of my reviews from last year.

For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).


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