Show a fruit bowl to a hundred different painters, and they'll all be different. Some might paint replicas that have fruit that appears edible, while some might create something so abstract, you'll wonder if they were looking at fruit at all.
Most biopics seem like they focus on painting the fruit to look as close to the fruit as possible, and to be honest, those end up being the most successful, especially when they add a little extra glitter and shine to that "fruit."
But I propose a fantasy, a hope, a dream, of something I would love to see. And that is a little more of an abstract telling of the Bernie Madoff story.
Wall Street, investment, stocks, bonds, securities, and hedge funds, and the like are all an important part of our financial world, but part of the reason people hire out investments specialists is because these things are complicated, and boring.
So let's not create an accurate retelling of how Madoff's ponzi scheme played out. Other movies have shown these things in smaller scales, and seeing more zeros on a computer screen or more green in a wallet doesn't make the story more compelling.
No, I have a vision for a Woody Allen film about Bernard Madoff. Last month, Steve Fishman wrote an article for NY Magazine about Madoff titled The Monster Mensch.
Mensch is a yiddish word word meaning a respectabe, mature, and respected person. Madoff in many ways, up until the fraud unraveled, had all the characteristics of an admirable American, pulling himself up from his bootstraps from the life of a Polish-American sprinkler repairman to a man worth millions of dollars.
New York Mag article really creates an interesting picture of Madoff beginning at a huge wedding for Bernie's niece Shana Madoff. The story really creates this interesting texture to the life of Bernie Madoff and the relationship he had in his community of friends and family. A story of respect.
In my vision of a Woody Allen film about Madoff, I don't think the scandal even plays a big part of the story, at least not the public scandal. Instead in Woody Allen's self-aware fashion it would show the sociable, but maybe insecure Bernie as he intermingles with friends, puts on a good face in regards to his great personal and business success.
It would be about Bernie's family, especially his younger brother Peter, wife Ruth Madoff, and his two sons Mark and Andrew. Each of these people had a part in the family business, and I can just see the back and forth of seeing these people at parties and social functions as well as around the office.
Picture, a less outrageous, but equally self-aware Arrested Development, (with a pre-arrested story).
Woody Allen of course would play the part of Madoff. Sure he doesn't look quite like Madoff (pictured above), but it's not like Madoff is a Johnny Cash or Ray Charles. Sure, I'm sure a Madoff look alike could be cast, but that's really not the idea here.
Sidenote: If I was doing a Madoff look-a-like casting, honestly I think I would cast Robin Williams and make-up and hair style him up to look older, and do some "younger Bernie" flashbacks even. It could be Robin Williams chance to regain some time in the spotlight as a serious actor (you know, the academy award winning actor, who's been nominated 4 times).
A story like Bernie's told in an Allen-style way really has room for such a wide ensemble, especially considering the party scenes, the dinner parties, and the office.
I'm sure there's a role for Scarlett Johansson in the film, maybe as Madoff's secretary or something.
To be honest, I'm sure Woody Allen has some thoughts on the Madoff scandal, in fact, I imagine Allen knows people who knew Madoff, or people who lost money with Madoff, so of course that would change the stories tone too.
To be honest, I'm not the biggest Woody Allen fan, but every once in awhile he does something amazing (like my favorite Allen film, Hannah and Her Sisters). And I think Allen doing a Madoff biopic could potential be one of the greatest ways to tell this story in an interesting, unique, and captivating way.
Come on Woody? What do you think?