Out of the Clear Blue Sky: A Flawed But Poingnant 9/11 Documentary


Out of the Clear Blue Sky is a flawed but poignant contribution to the canon of 9/11 documentaries. Director Danielle Gardner, whose brother, Doug, was one of the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died in the attack, takes up the idiosyncratic tragedy of that firm. Anyone at Cantor who showed up to work and was in the office that day perished; their deaths numbered a fourth of all 9/11 casualties. The firm, also the nation’s largest bond trader, though still reeling from the devastation, had to figure out whether to stay in business and how—the bond market reopened just two days later. Gardner ambitiously takes up several elements of Cantor’s unique situation, depriving the film of a strong focus. At times it is a business story, a media story, a family story, a political story, and, perhaps above all, the story of Cantor’s CEO, Howard Lutnick. By not delving more deeply into any one of these subjects, Gardner loses the opportunity for more profound understanding, something reflected in the title, which could apply to any 9/11 remembrance. As in most documentaries, spliced-in reenactments are unhelpful. Still, what this movie shares is of great consequence, a moving and unlikely story in a tapestry of stories about a tragic and unlikely event.