I watched Too Big to Fail last night. It’s a 2011 made-for-HBO movie that makes a great drama taken (or so it seems) from actual events. I watched like a fly on the wall as then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen and others dealt with the financial meltdown of 2008.
The first reason I liked it was just plain drama. Entertainment value. Plot, suspense, people in crisis, real tension, frustrations, failures, and outcomes. It’s a reminder that there is real drama in politics, crisis, business, finance, and people making tough decisions that affect a lot of people. Even if all the action is in offices and conference rooms. It doesn’t take car chases and crime stories to make drama and suspense. Talking, just plain talking, can be extremely dramatic when real outcomes are at stake.
The second reason I like it was that it rings true. It feels like watching real history, closeup, behind closed doors, as it happened. I can’t say how accurate it is, but it has no trouble splicing in real news coverage of real events. It starts with the fall of Lehman Brothers, continues through the next few weeks, the negotiation of the big banking bailout. It’s a strong cast (James Woods, John Heard, William Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Baker, and a surprisingly long list of other stars). And they play real people (Paulsen, Timothy Geitner, Warren Buffet, Ben Bernanke, and CEOs of a dozen top financial institutions, among others).
I checked it out on IMDB and the highlighted reviews don’t sound that great, but it has a 7.2 star rating, which is very high.
(Image: courtesy of impawards.com, which sells posters)