In December of 2008, within days of Bernie Madoff's apprehension, New York attorney Marc Dreier was charged with eight counts of fraud and money laundering, bringing to light a scheme that had cheated lenders and clients of more than $700 million. Although a far cry from Madoff's $65 billion swindle, Dreier still earned a place in the growing hall of corporate shame. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was put under house arrest for the 60 days until sentencing, which is where Marc H. Simon's documentary comes in. The film bears witness to a tony purgatory in which a $10 million Manhattan penthouse becomes an anteroom to a prison cell, and a onetime celebrity lawyer putters around in an ankle monitor, chitchatting about baseball with the armed guards assigned to enforce his immobility. It's a fascinating fishbowl in concept, yet Simon's storytelling is unevenly textured and oddly listless—fatal for a film about a banal document-pushing felon clock-watching to a known outcome. In interviews, Dreier oscillates between confession and self-justification: forthright and contrite about his crimes, but also, skilled attorney that he is, determined to universalize them. "How many could say for sure that they would never do what I did, if they had the opportunity and thought they wouldn't get caught?" he asks. Perhaps we're all greedy, amoral bastards at heart, but it takes a special, truly privileged case to normalize white-collar psychosis. Ninety-nine percent of us wouldn't know where to begin.
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