What I’m Reading – Worth

Who’d expect Netflix to produce a movie about dispute system design?  Or that it would be really good?

Its docudrama, Worth, about the process of designing and implementing the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, actually is terrific.  (Note that this What-I’m-Reading series isn’t limited to just reading stuff.)

It is based on Kenneth Feinberg’s book, What Is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11.  The film is pretty accurate according to the History vs. Hollywood website.  Although the film uses composite characters, takes liberties with some facts, exaggerates the drama, and fits the story into a conventional narrative structure, it accurately portrays the overall story.  (If you plan to watch the film, I suggest that you do so before reading the website analysis, which is full of spoilers.)

I especially liked scenes with claimants who seem remarkably realistic and emotionally compelling.

Surprisingly, it portrays Mr. Feinberg (played by Michael Keaton) as an insensitive it’s-all-about-the-numbers lawyer, at least at first.  It provides dramatic tension by highlighting the conflict with an especially thoughtful claimant (played by Stanley Tucci) who challenges Feinberg’s approach and leads him to recognize and address claimants’ range of interests.

The film also does a good job of showing that a major motivation for setting up the compensation fund was to protect the airline industry and economy generally by avoiding lengthy litigation.  And it explores the legal system’s difficulty of determining a fair value of human life.

Did you see the film?  What did you think?

Click here to see what else I have been reading.

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