Filmmaker Sara Colangelo came to direct her latest feature narrative Worth simply out of a fascination with the work and person of Kenneth Feinberg--acclaimed and powerful United States attorney-at-law on special assignment for the United States government. Feinberg was appointed Special Master to oversee the complicated mission of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Feinberg and his office were the perfect people chosen for the job, though it was difficult beyond measure.
In honor of Feinberg and his associate Camille S. Biros, their biographies and the credit to their work are listed at the end of this review (documented in the press notes of the filmmakers). In addition, there is a description of The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). These are remarkable professional individuals asked to do the unthinkable in regard to compensation to those victimized by disaster. Noteworthy are their accomplishments.
Screenwriter Max Borenstein writes his script for Worth based on true events. Feinberg has spent a lifetime working with cases dealing with compensation for those victimized by tragedy. He has written countless articles and essays on the subject and is the author of two books on the subject: "What is Life Worth? The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11" (Public Affairs 2005), and "Who Gets What: Air Compensation After Tragedy and Financial Upheaval" (Public Affairs 2012). The two books alone would give Borenstein plenty of raw material to work with but the collaboration between Colangelo and Borenstein focus on Feinberg's journey and discovery of finding out what life is worthwhile fighting off the cynicism, bureaucracy and politics connected with the task of the giving out government money to those victimized by the tragedy of 9/11.
Colangelo had so much to say about her desire to tell this story: "At the heart of my fascination lies, in fact, a moral conundrum. There is such a philosophical discomfort of putting dollars and cents to people's lives. And yet, in the wake of 9/11, the government created a Fund, with the help of Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros, which would purportedly help victims and victims' families moved on. It would compensate them." Sara continues, "I wanted to explore the tension inherent in this scenario--calculating numbers and how it would collide with the heartbreak of countless personal tragedies." She wondered if the project would work and questioned, "... how would Feinberg, as the architect and public face of the Fund, fare emotionally along the way?" Colangelo feels like Worth speaks to one man's journey of growth and awareness going from "relying on the powers of rationality to unearthing the powers of compassion...to find humanity working within a capitalist structure." He adds, "That idea of transformation is something that inspired me every day as a director on this film."
An acclaimed U.S. Attorney, Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) is appointed by Congress to lead the Victim Compensation Fund for those victimized by the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
The matter-of-fact lawyer, Feinberg brings on board, Camille S. Biros (Amy Ryan) as his executive head of operations to assist him and his office with exploring every detail that would relate to anyone eligible to receive compensation from the tragedy.
The two professionals had worked on numerous cases involving victim compensations including several high profile cases but the magnitude of this case took on a life of its own when a community organizer, Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) whose wife died in the towers, pushes Feinberg to his limits as a rigid 'calculator' to re-evaluate his motives. Feinberg's callous exterior begins to soften when placed on a personal journey to discover the human cost of this tragedy.