Starring: Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci
Director: Sara Colangelo
Running Time: 118 mins
Worth is an American film about a lawyer who is tasked with determining the financial payouts after the 9/11 attacks, as he navigates the difficult dilemma between political and economic reality and the impossibility of putting a dollar figure on a lost human life.
By no means the easiest subject to take on, Worth proves a genuinely enthralling, grounded and sensitive take on one of the harshest effects of the 9/11 attacks, complete with captivating performances and powerfully thought-provoking drama throughout.
There’s a lot that makes Worth very much worth your time, but what’s most impressive about the film is the way in which it straddles the boundary between pragmatic, level-headed drama and a highly emotional, potentially melodramatic affair.
Now, it’s fair to say that there are moments in this film which go a little over the top in trying to tug at your heartstrings, with some of the encounters between the lawyer (Michael Keaton) and the leader of the victims’ group (Stanley Tucci) occasionally boiling over into more of a melodrama than the measured affair which really makes this film work.
That being said, the moments of melodrama are also a recognition of the role emotion plays in what is in truth a very cold decision-making process. Keaton’s character, in trying to distance himself from that emotional effect, attempts to divide the funds for the victims in as ‘fair’ a way as possible, with functions and algorithms using equal criteria to determine how much money the victims’ families should receive in compensation.
Of course, this strategy amounts to exactly the thing that seems so impossible to determine – putting a dollar figure on a lost human life. And as such, the political and economic reality that is pushing Keaton’s character to carry out his work in such a way comes into a dramatic conflict with his and his colleagues’ moral and emotional perspectives.
In Hollywood, moral and emotions almost always win out without any debate, but Worth does an impressive job at holding back from that for as long as it can, and giving a far more realistic and level-headed portrayal of the real pressures that Keaton’s character is under, without the ability to simply declare what the objective ‘moral’ solution is.
In all, Worth is a thoroughly captivating watch because it keeps its feet on the ground and pulls you back and forth between what the ‘right’ way to resolve this dilemma between reality and emotions is.
Complete with captivating performances and a measured screenplay throughout, the film is an enthralling and thought-provoking watch from start to finish, so that’s why I’m giving Worth a 7.9 overall.