In “Hunger for Power”, Michael Keaton played Ray Kroc, a determined salesman of milkshake machines who, after insisting almost until exhaustion, convinces two brothers – the creators of the McDonald’s brand – to expand their business through a franchise partnership. Although in its purpose it finds many obstacles, finally the protagonist of the film ends up appropriating a brand that over the years would be a fast food empire.
We remember this movie from 2016 after seeing “How much is life worth?”, The new drama about the terrorist attacks of the 11 of September that Netflix is available, and that it also has Keaton in its leading role. On this occasion, although the character he brings to life is initially cold and calculating as Ray Kroc, there is a later twist that makes him extremely human. Beyond this difference, something that is similar is that in the two films Keaton plays a very confident guy, that is, someone who knows himself capable of transcending.
Horrendous terrorist attacks committed in the United States on September 11, 2001, left more than 3,000 dead. At a time when social networks were not yet a key part of our communication, TV broadcasts were. This is how millions of citizens around the world saw live planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Although many people managed to flee the buildings and save their lives, others could not. Firefighters, executives, workers, nurses or students perished due to the insanity of Al Qaeda.
Aware that an event of such magnitude could lead to multiple civil lawsuits against the airlines involved and, therefore, in judgments and compensation that lead to bankruptcy, the US authorities decided to propose from Congress a Compensation Fund for the Victims of the 11 of September. The objective was not only to stop possible lawsuits, but at the same time to shield the commercial aviation system and, therefore, to tackle a possible break in the tourist circuit throughout the United States.
Presented as a lawyer and university professor specialized in determining how much the debtors should receive as compensation for lawsuits related to various issues, Ken Feinberg (Michael Keaton) finds in this Fund a possibility to transcend. It was, without a doubt, an unprecedented initiative for a similar situation. What for many was a ‘hot potato’, turned out to be the great objective of Feinberg, who after running and even clarifying that he did not want to receive any honorarium for his performance, is finally appointed by the Government. From here begins an arduous path that will be fundamentally a path of personal conversion.
“How much is life worth?” shows how difficult it is to equate the pain caused by the death of a loved one with a number of money. How much would we demand from a company if due to her responsibility – direct or indirect – our mother died? What if only one nephew died? What if the deceased was our sick 95-year-old grandfather? A priori, one might think that in a massive misfortune like September 11, everyone should receive the same compensation. But it is not so. In that early stage of the film, Ken Feinberg seems to agree with the idea that a deceased executive inside one of the towers should receive more than, I don’t know, an immigrant worker. Why? “Because the executive had a more expensive mortgage,” he responds to being rebuked by a group of relatives of the victims of September 11.
But trying to negotiate with so many relatives ends up being a kind of therapy for Feinberg and the team of lawyers at his firm. And it is that behind each victim of barbarism there are fathers, mothers, brothers, husbands and, many times, children. Each one has a testimony to give about that person who one day went to work at the World Trade Center and never came back. It is those long minutes of dialogue that end up opening the head of a lawyer accustomed to exact and non-negotiable figures.
Of course, this story is not a string of tears and pain either. Structurally, that would have been tedious, flat, and very local (as this is a fundamentally American tragedy). This film is concerned with presenting the victims on their most human side. A firefighter whose death reveals that he had two extramarital daughters. The parents of a victim prevent their partner, of the same sex, from accessing the benefits of this fund. Ken Feinberg and his colleagues will witness how complex our society can be.
Without being round in various aspects (beyond Keaton’s great performance and a very acceptable work by Stanley Tucci as Charles Wolf, the widower who manages to move Feinberg and propose a more humane Fund), “How much is life worth?”Achieves its purpose by showing us how human misfortune is capable of moving the most reluctant of lawyers. And finally, Sara Colangelo’s film refreshes our memory –without the need to appeal to show lurid images of the attacks perpetrated exactly 20 years ago– of the evil power that those who do not believe in democracy or democracy are capable of using. freedoms that it defends.
Original title: “How much is life worth?”
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the US, an attorney must attempt to determine the monetary value of the lives that were lost. Based on real events.
Duration: 2 hours
Director: Sara Colangelo.
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