Unfortunately, based on a true story
Completing the ‘Wall Street Noir’ triptych that also includes Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job and Alex Gibney’s Client 9 – with which it even shares the spectre of a pre-deposed New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer – is Jeff Prosserman’s Chasing Madoff, a propulsively unsettling documentary about fiscal apocalypse that plays like The Insider by way of Three Days Of The Condor.
Chasing Madoff focuses on the decade-long campaign by the doggedly conscientious lone-wolf number cruncher Harry Markopolos – a former portfolio manager for a Boston-based equity asset firm who saw through Madoff’s scam ‘inside of five minutes’ – to blow a whistle on the perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. Problem was, it was a whistle no one wanted to hear no matter how hard Harry wanted to blow it.
Prosserman knew he had a terrific first-person true-life thriller in Harry’s story – Markopolos subsequently became something of a contemporary folk hero when he testified before a 2009 congressional hearing into the Securities and Exchange Commission’s total disregard of all the warnings about Madoff it had received. But he also knew that the endangered lone-wolf narrative couldn’t be permitted to eclipse what he called his film’s ‘philosophy’, which is ‘the human cost, the human tragedy, of so much being taken from so many who were so vulnerable.’
This is also why Chasing Madoff regularly intersperses its sinuously unfolding account of Markopolos’s increasingly desperate attempts to get the truth out with wrenching testimonies of Madoff’s almost countless (and usually anonymous) victims – those people who trusted their life savings to a piece of paper that suddenly burst to cinders in their hand.
– Geoff Pevere, The Toronto Star