Worth film review (2021)

Ultimately, Worth is a film about understanding and humanity. The underlying plot reminds us of the devastating terrorist attacks on 9/11, but what truly grabs your attention is seeing the families and loved ones of the victims yearning for peace, respect, and ultimately, closure.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack is an event I’ll surely never forget. I vividly remember the exact moment where I was when I saw the two planes crashing into the World Trade Center. It’s been 20 years since that tragic day and as every year goes by, I’m reminded of how blessed I truly am to be in the position I am. I’m healthy, but most importantly, I’m still grateful to be alive, which unfortunately, many lives were taken on this day far too soon due to an unthinkable event. Worth really put all of this into perspective. When most people think of 9/11, they think of the image of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers or into the Pentagon, and all the innocents lives lost. However, not everyone thinks of the families, friends, and loves ones these people are leaving behind and what they’ll have to live with moving forward.

Worth tells a story of an attorney Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton), who takes on the task of leading the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He and his team come together to try and determine what the victims of the tragedy are truly worth in order to allocate funds accordingly. However, a community organizer, Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci), confronts him about this strategy and forces him to really sympathize and restructure the entire process as he steadily gets to know some of the victims and their stories.

The one question the film is really trying to ask is: how much is a person’s life truly worth? For myself, it’s hard to quantify and answer such a question since I believe all life is precious and there shouldn’t be a price or a value placed on a human being. It really pushes you to ask yourself these kinds of questions since after 9/11, a group of people really had to make important and potentially life-changing choices for the people who were left behind. It seems a bit harsh, considering the group was trying to make financial decisions depending on the deceased victim’s former profession, whether he or she had certain benefits, and so on. But, what the film really tries to show us is these decisions shouldn’t be made based on their professional status, but more on who they were and what they meant to the people they left behind.

Keaton is simply fantastic in his role as Feinberg. As usual, he really sells this performance by portraying a man who, I feel, genuinely wants to help these people, but is restricted by the very laws and guidelines he goes by, while also being influenced by the greed and wants of other powerful folks. He finds himself in a tense and sometimes uncomfortable situation when he’s confronted by numerous people. Once he opens up and sees the errors he’s making, he readjusts and starts making decisions based on who the people were and what their families are going through rather than what they did and what they can live with.

Tucci is the perfect counter to Keaton’s character in the movie. Although he isn’t the only one to combat him about his strategy for the funding program, he is the only one who seems to have a proper and viable solution. Being that he’s also a victim of the 9/11 attacks, it’s also something completely personal to him, so he understands what everyone else is feeling and the closure everyone is hoping to reach with all of this.

These two were the two best characters in the entire film and sadly, the only strong performances I really cared about. Granted, there are some other likable performances turned in from Amy Ryan and Laura Benanti, but no one ever comes close to delivering powerful portrayal that leave a lasting mark like Keaton and Tucci. Credit has to be given to director Sara Colangelo, who brings the best out of both actors. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about all the others ones. Besides Ryan and Benanti, who have some impactful moments in the movie, no one else feels as important and simply playing a role. With an event such as this, I do think there were more stories to be told and the movie does spend a lot of time focusing on other things. I do wish some of the focus was shifted to some other victim’s stories in order to better understand what everyone is going through. Yes, there are short segments, but some are forgotten because of the grander plot taking precedent.

There are some unanswered questions as well. It seems it does get caught up with too many things going on at times. Some of the resolutions in the movie did feel a bit abrupt and not everything was explained as thoroughly as I hoped. However, for the most part, I do think the more important points the film touches on have a proper and definitive result, which is satisfying enough.

Worth puts quite a bit into perspective. A lot of times, we only really think about that specific moment in time. In this case, it’s the tragic terrorist attack. But, not many think about the aftermath of these attacks and the people who are suffering because of it. It forces you to have compassion for the people who lost someone they love and at the end of the day, they aren’t just another statistic. Their lives had value and when it comes to making decisions like this, that needs to be taken into consideration. The film is a bit unevenly paced at times and I still have some questions I feel were never resolved, but it’s the overall message, and the two leading men who help tell it, that really wins me over.

Score: B+

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