This post 9/11 drama fights for a worthy cause.
One of the opening scenes of “Worth” has Michael Keaton listening to his classical music during his commute, when people start receiving phone calls and reports on September 11, 2001. And when he sees the smoke, he is in a state of shock, and it’s quite haunting the way director Sara Colangelo (“The Kindergarten Teacher”) and writer Max Borenstein (Legendary’s MonsterVerse) present that. And why wouldn’t it be? The 9/11 attacks were horrific and evil, and this day is unforgivable.
“Worth” is a complicated film about the complications of struggling with the pain and tragedy of such a horrendous attack, and those who wish to benefit their families. It wins us over with the victims’ families, as well as the main protagonist trying to help them.
The Keaton character is lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who is now in a circus when families of the victims plan to sue the airlines. He’s been appointed as the special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. At the first meeting, he gets attacked by the victims’ families, who accuse him of scamming them. He didn’t lose anyone in the attacks, and his assistance wasn’t originally on his To-Do list (obviously). So why would they trust him?
That’s why he has some help, support, arguments, and cynicism along the way. Amy Ryan plays Kenneth’s deputy administrator Camille Biros, who sticks by him, while Stanley Tucci plays community organizer Charles Wolf, who lost his wife on 9/11, and locks horns with Feinberg. And throughout his experience, this lawyer undergoes a change of heart.
And the ones, who believe in the organization, or want to at least, have their stories to tell about their fallen loved ones, and they’re portrayed in some of the most sentimental ways, as was presented with the molested in “Spotlight.” The best moment, in particular, is when the widowed Karen (Laura Benanti) weeps over her dead firefighter husband Frank, and asks Kenneth to not get her family involved with the program. Then there’s the brother of the deceased (Chris Tardio), who doesn’t want his sister-in-law to know about Frank having girls with his mistress. The word about that got to Kenneth by her lawyer (Marc Maron).
Shunori Ramanthan plays Priya Khundi, who works with Kenneth, and sneaks off to one of Wolf’s meetings. She suggests that Kenneth should follow his methods, which earn people’s trust. And Tate Donovan as slimy attorney Lee Quinn threatens him with a lawsuit, unless he can make a deal with him.
Keaton, Tucci, Donovan, Benanti, and Tardio are the best stars of “Worth,” because of how their performances bring out the best of their characters. Keaton uses his age and attitude to portray the real-life lawyer; Tucci gives one of his best performances when he adds humanity to his character; Donovan delivers the goods when he plays a sleezeball like Lee Quinn; and while Benanti and Tardio are both actors I’ve never heard up, they manage to ease their emotions with the right convictions. They have various aspects of the organization, and what they’ve been through. I can’t imagine the 9/11 victims’ pain, but I do sympathize them the best I can, and I’m also sympathetic towards the film’s characters.
Not every character gets their basis, but “Worth” is more focused on the one who is trying to bring the organization together, and the wife and brother-in-law with their unfaithful relative. It’s about learning the true nature of helping those in need, especially because of what 9/11 has done to America. The movie is filled with anger, emotions, and patience, and it almost has a similar vibe with “Spotlight.” And Keaton and Tucci were in both movies.
In Select Theaters This Friday
Streaming On Netflix Next Friday