Worth [7/10]

A tense drama about the aftermath of 9/11, “Worth” is above all a vehicle for the superlative acting of Michael Keaton. Here he plays a lawyer specialising in bulk settlements when tragedies strike or accidents occur, developing formulas that most equitably compensate victims and their families, and then negotiating to ensure his compensation package is broadly accepted. It’s a specialised field that I have some knowledge of, being an ex-actuary, and I was fascinated by this aspect of the movie. After the epochal terrorist attack in 2001, Congress set up a legislated fund to tackle the tragic aftermath, with thousands dead and injured, doing this mostly to head off class actions that might derail the economy, and Michael Keaton’s character is plunged into a maelstrom of conflicts of interest. The supporting actors all do a splendid job, Sara Colangelo directs with steady pacing, and 9/11 is evoked well. All that said, Worth is plagued by the “based on a true story” label, a millstone that almost always seems to leach genuine drama out of a story. Only Michael Keaton’s brilliant evincing of a human under stress saves the film from tedium. On balance, a fascinating tale well told.

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