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Unraveled - Movie Review - 2011

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Unraveled - Movie Review - 2011

Marc Drier in 'Unraveled'

Go Digital Media Group

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Confined to Home While Awaiting Sentencing

Marc Drier was a highly respected, trusted and sought after man about town. He headed a huge and prosperous investment firm, hung out with entertainment and sports celebrities, threw gala parties and staged elaborate charity events. Every one who is anyone wanted to know him, and to climb on his bandwagon.

But Drier's world was a sham and his financial success was based on a scam. When his empire crumbled, it happened quickly and it was big news.

The story broke in 2008, at the height of the media frenzy over master fraudster Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme. Drier, who was accused and convicted of securities and wire fraud on a grand scale, had bilked several multi-billion dollar corporations of about $700-million by using someone else's name and collateral to secure funds to cover other debt that had been falsely secured by the same fraudulent means.

Unraveled tracks the Drier case through archival footage and some animated graphics, but its primary focus is on the period during which Drier, under house arrest with 24/7 armed guards watching him in his more than 10-million dollar penthouse on New York City's Upper East Side, is awaiting the court appearance at which he will be sentenced for his crimes. Drier's digs, though they've been stripped of his fabulous art collection and his other riches, are extremely luxurious, but he will soon be forced to leave them for the more modest accommodations afforded by a jail cell or dormitory -- where he will live for a very long time or the rest of his life, depending on how his sentencing goes.

Drier's activities and social interactions are already limited by the terms of his house arrest. He spends much of his time alone, reading the newspapers and watches television -- mostly quiz shows and sports. Drier is visited by his son, a student who is using his college fund to support his dad. He and his son cook dinner and watch sports and quiz shows on television. Drier, still competitive, answers the questions on Jeopardy, and gets them all right. He comments that he should have been a perpetual quiz show contestant rather than opening his investment firm.

Drier meets with his defense attorneys to strategize with them about how to convince the judge to be lenient and to sentence him to the least amount of time possible, and send him to a minimum security prison located near enough to New York that his son will be able to visit often. Hoping to show that he deserves a lighter sentence than that given to Bernard Madoff, Drier writes a solicitous letter to the judge pointing out that he had taken money from several wealthy corporations, but not from thousands of trusting individual clients. The defense attorneys think the letter is a bad idea, and there is an interesting discussion about whether to submit it or not. Drier, a graduate of Harvard Law School and practicing attorney, has strong opinions.

Drier also meets with a prison consultant who briefs white collar criminals about what to expect in jail. They discuss food, prison jobs and cell mates. Drier says he hopes not to be assigned to hard labor. He is most fearful of getting a cell mate who snores. The strictly observational footage of this meeting is amazing.


Filmmaker Access

Filmmaker Marc Simon seems to have unlimited access to Drier. Perhaps that's because Simon is, in fact, a practicing attorney who also makes documentaries. And, although this is not revealed in the film, Simon actually worked at Drier's firm during the years from 2003 to 2008. While the filmmaker's previous relationship with Drier may raise some questions about their mutual intentions in making the film, it also explains the unusual intimacy of Drier's on camera interviews.

Simon and his camera are with Drier when he's 'alone,' with little to distract him from thinking about his crimes and why he committed them. He shares his ruminations, confiding that he always felt driven and competitive, compelled not only to succeed, but to be perceived as successful. He tells how he decided to establish his own firm, and how he managed to create it out of next to nothing. And recounts how, when he came up against a debt that he couldn't pay and was at risk of losing everything, he came up with a scheme to borrow funds using someone else's name and collateral to temporarily cover the debt and save his business. He fully intended, he says, for that to be a one-time action, but soon found that he needed to repeat it to keep his business and lifestyle afloat.

Several times, when he was out of the country on business and suspected that colleagues were on to him, he was tempted to not return home to face disgrace and possible incarceration. But he did return and was, as he suspected he would be, arrested.

Delivered with seeming candor, Drier's ruminations are fascinating. He's a very smart guy who appears to be, as he tells it, the victim of an inflated American dream, of the pressing need to succeed on a grand scale. While Drier admits his guilt and acknowledges his responsibility, he offers many exculpatory explanations -- that might also be called excuses -- for his behavior. He shows little if any remorse, nor does he apologize for his actions.


Draw Your Own Conclusions

It's hard to tell whether this documentary is a well-staged public rehearsal for a future Drier bid for rehabilitation, or an unusual opportunity to witness the sincere introspection of a man who engineered a major economic crime, lived a life of lies and is about to do full penance for his greedy, antisocial behavior. Either way, this intensely interesting documentary has larger-than-Drier social relevance in that it provokes vital discussion about current American values and economic behavior.


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Film Details:

  • Title: Unraveled - 2012
  • Director: Marc Simon
  • U.S. Theatrical Release Date: April 13, 2012
  • Running Time: 82 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Locations: New York City, New York.
  • Language: English
  • Production Country: USA
  • Production Company: Ambush Entertainment
  • Theatrical Distribution Company: Go Digital Media Group
  • Broadcast Distribution Company: Showtime Network


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