Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich Review: Four-Part Expose on Jeffrey Epstein Makes for Essential Viewing

Rhea Srivastava -

Jeffrey Epstein:  Filthy Rich Review: Four-Part Expose on Jeffrey Epstein Makes for Essential Viewing
Format: Limited Docuseries
Platform: Netflix
Movie Rated: 16+
Genre: Documentary, Crime
Language: English
Digital Premiere Date: 29 May 2020


Many times, it is as difficult to hear stories of sexual abuse as it is to narrate them. And when it comes to presenting such real stories to a big audience, sensitivity is one of the key things that documentarians need to keep in account. Netflix’s true-crime documentary on notorious financier Jeffrey Epstein, ‘Filthy Rich’ has a difficult predicament, for its subject matter is far from subtle. Epstein was a serial abuser who was involved with crimes of trafficking and assault for decades. What is a greater testament to his position than the fact that he was able to defy authorities for years, and now after his death, many secrets about his crimes still remain mysterious? Still, the docuseries based on James Patterson and John Connolly’s book of the same title still manages to shed light on his story and all those who propelled his image on the way, while remaining sensitive and central to his victims.

What is the Story About?
Beginning with a shocking tape of Epstein himself calling in the fifth amendment to deny any of the allegations against him across many locations, the series goes on to unravel a history of abuse by the use of very intricate interviews with survivors (across age groups and time periods) interspersed by the many investigations taken on by state police departments and the FBI in the case. By the end of the four episodes, the viewer has a step-by-step look at how Epstein’s connections and position enabled him to evade the judicial system. But the silver lining is the many brave survivors, media members, legal representatives and police officers who went beyond their roles to eventually result in his arrest. If you are familiar with Epstein’s lack of trial already (unfortunately, he allegedly committed suicide while in jail and never faced one), you know that the victims never got the chance to see their predator serve a sentence. It is still a point for great anguish that may help survivors to come forth about such cases quickly and more fiercely in the future. 

Like most docuseries of this nature, there is little to interpret from Filthy Rich. Testimonies and facts are presented, and there are no extra perspectives to veer the viewer off from the horrid crimes of Epstein. What does happen, though, is that the viewer is faced with the deep psychological repercussions of what cyclical abuse can do to the minds of young women, about their self-worth and self-image. This comes across not just in the heart-wrenching sobs of a victim who recalls a different version of herself before her abuse, but also one who played a part in the pyramid of connections that Epstein had created. What is revealed is that many times, when a young girl refused his advances, he would offer them a significant amount of money for sending him other girls instead. This created a chain between the girls and Epstein - the suppliers and the supplied. Yes, it is evident throughout that he took advantage of their vulnerability due to lack of financial stability or dysfunctional home. The side that the documentary chooses to take is that Epstein was a powerful but disturbed person and that while his close kin in the bureaucratic and political circles of the United States would not take his crimes too seriously, he was, in fact, a predator. 

If you have been someone who is privy to the coverage of the Epstein case, the facts in the chronology that have been presented in Filthy Rich would hardly surprise you. In that context, the story itself is more broad than detailed. But you will get significant detail on the victims’ perspectives and some genuinely insightful anecdotes from other people who were indirectly involved in the case and coverage. Patterson himself shows up a few times and shares some basic facts. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is a good overview, to begin with. 

What Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich does have as an advantage to a greater socio-political and cultural canon is that it serves as documentation for the many unheard voices of this case. Apparently, shooting for the series began before Epstein’s death but the truth remains that many of his victims never actually got the chance to face him in court even though they showed immense strength of character. What we now have is a forever story that can serve as both a warning and an inspiration for the future. 

In some ways, viewers can be left wanting more detail on the historical and social context of Epstein’s actions, and its aftermath to the powerful political chain that he was a part of. The documentary does little to analyse the tools that Epstein had at his disposal to be able to get away with his crimes in the first place (one of his accomplices still denies all allegations). In that way, it remains too safe within the confinement of its geographical context. 
Music and Other Departments
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich uses subtle visuals, archival footage, photographic evidence, and non-contextualised imagery to tell its story, which works in its favour because of the grave subject matter. The score used is also subtly haunting. The show has been shot and edited well. 
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes. I had little information about Epstein’s crimes and trial so I was intrigued for most of it. It does make you very uncomfortable though, but the story is still important to tell. 
Do I Recommend It?
Yes. If you like true-crime documentaries, this is a good watch. 
Synopsis : Survivors worldwide reveal the manipulation, abuse and emotional scars suffered at the hands of wealthy convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Their stories expose a sex trafficking ring of powerful enablers leading up to his 2019 arrest.
Cast : Jeffrey Epstein
Directors : Lisa Bryant
Producer/s : Lori Gordon, Bill McClane, Frank Ombres, John Michael Scholl
Cinematographer (DoP) : Patrick Bradley, Andy Cope, Jonathan Deaver, John Kelleran, Daniel Marracino, Mike Ollek, Osvaldo Silvera Jr., Thaddeus Wadleigh, Bill Winters, Chris Dellapace
Production House : RadicalMedia, James Patterson Entertainment, Third Eye Motion Picture Company
Music : Justin Melland

Total number of seasons : 1 Total number of episodes : 4
Season No.: 1 No. of episodes this season : 4
Digital Premiere Date : May 27, 2020

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