Netflix Presents "Filthy Rich"; A Docu-Series About Jeffery Epstein

Updated Thursday 28 May 2020 6:32
Netflix Presents "Filthy Rich"; A Docu-Series About Jeffery Epstein
"Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich" begins with an arresting image: Close-up footage of the wealthy hedge-fund manager during a 2012 deposition, as he is questioned about allegedly soliciting minors for prostitution. It's grainy and raw, a fair description of this four-part documentary, which squarely focuses on the story from the alleged victims' perspective.

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As constructed, there are some initial drawbacks to that. Director Lisa Bryant -- working with among others author (and former Epstein neighbor) James Patterson, who wrote a book on the case -- presents material in a non-linear way, which proves a trifle disorienting.

Stay with it, though, and "Filthy Rich" coalesces into a maddening tale not only of how Epstein allegedly preyed upon teenagers, but an indictment of a system and institutions that missed opportunities to intervene.

What the Netflix docu-series accomplishes most effectively is to capture the helplessness that survivors of Epstein's abuse say they felt. In that regard, it's a close companion to "Surviving R. Kelly," thematically as well as in its format.

The documentary unfolds along those lines, as Epstein allegedly leveraged his wealth to escape legal repercussions. That includes the "sweetheart deal" negotiated in Florida between Epstein's legal team and former U.S. attorney Alex Acosta, who later served as President Trump's Labor Secretary for two years, before stepping down over his involvement with Epstein's 2008 plea deal. (Acosta has stated that his office handled the case appropriately, and former Epstein attorney Alan Dershowitz defends the propriety of the agreement in an on-camera interview.)

"Filthy Rich" covers a lot of ground, including how Epstein wormed his way into the finance industry and high society. But its attention never deviates for long from the women -- then mere girls -- and what attorney Brad Edwards describes as a "molestation pyramid scheme," built on, as Ward puts it, "the abuse of power and money."

Even at four hours, "Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich" can't close the books on the Epstein case. Because while he might be gone, the far-reaching tentacles of this story aren't -- either for the identified survivors, or the questions that remain unanswered and unknown about the blocks in that pyramid.

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