Opening your four-part docuseries with a slide that states “The following series contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse involving minors, which may be disturbing for some viewers.”, sets the tone for what’s about to unfold. We then cut to an interrogation in 2012, where Epstein quickly uses his right to plead the Fifth Amendment to get out of some serious questioning, regarding soliciting minors for prostitution. Smiling his way through the questions and using the same answer over and over again, we jump right into the case which all started with a 2003-article in Vanity Fair.
Investigative journalist Vicky Ward is asked to write a business article on “the money manager for the überrich”, that leads her into the direction of two victims, who are labeled as survivors, a term that fits every single one of the women speaking out on the abuse much better. We find out this wealthy, but mysterious introvert, has befriended a legion of powerful men, such as Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton. (To be clear, although Trump and Clinton were seen hanging out with Epstein, none of the survivors ever accuse them of any wrongdoing considered sexual abuse). When seen at parties, he’d always be surrounded by beautiful women, because “he’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side”, to quote Trump bragging about his good friend.
Epstein was a sexual predator, and he didn’t act on his own. His wealthy lifestyle was used to show off and lure underage girls, but his longtime girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was the one who’d recruit future victims. Ward’s original version of the article never saw the light of day, as she and her editor both were threatened and being watched by Epstein and his team. The ominous music playing in the background of every episode works stress-inducing to what’s already emotionally draining, while Epstein’s accusers are the leading voices sharing their stories on how the abuse started. There was a pattern, but by assembling a network of enablers who helped carry out and cover up his crimes, he was able to get away with all of it until his arrest in 2019.
Epstein came from humble beginnings yet managed to lie and manipulate his way to the top of the financial world. He eventually gained tremendous wealth and power while running an international sex trafficking ring. The serial sex abuser made a secret plea deal with the government in 2008 avoiding a potential life sentence and continued to abuse women.
Lisa Bryant‘s gut wrenching Netflix Original Documentary Series ‘Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich‘ shows just how vile and abusive the millionaire really was. But what makes the series stand out is the numerous survivors revealing their emotional scars, some even for the very first time. This is not an easy watch. Luckily everything gets wrapped up in only four one-hour episodes and never drags in any way. It does rely on cliffhangers at the end of each episode, which is a bit of a cliché, but that doesn’t undermine the strength of the series.
The way both Epstein and his partners-in-crime normalised the abuse that had been going on for years, shows how their wealth put them above the law until justice was served. Psychological profiling by the FBI, never-before-seen plea deals in court and the ways of extorting the government as a way of distracting the public, it’s all too crazy to be real – yet it did happen. One of the most powerful scenes is when a phone-interview with Epstein, in which he talks about his behaviour as if it is normal, plays under a series of photos of all the young underage victims sliding across the screen. Chilling and surreal.
‘Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich‘ watches like a true crime drama, taking you from his apartment in New York to his horrific ‘pedophile island’. An in-depth investigative report on the monster and his accomplices, that most importantly gives the survivors of his abuse their voice back. A must watch, that will leave you stunned from the very beginning.
Netflix Review – ‘Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich’
Reviewed on Netflix, May 22, 2020. Rating: 16+. Running time: 4 x 55 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a RadicalMedia, James Patterson Entertainment, Third Eye Motion Picture Company production. Producers: Lori Gordon-Logan, Bill McClane, Frank Ombres. Executive producers: Joe Berlinger, Jon Doran, Lisa Bryant, Jon Kamen, James Patterson, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout, Peter Landesman.
CREW: Director: Lisa Bryant. Camera: Patrick Bradley, Andy Cope, Jonathan Deaver, John Kelleran, Mike Ollek, Daniel Marracino, Osvaldo Silvera, Thad Wadleigh, Bill Winters. Editors: Cy Christiansen, Joshua L. Pearson, Marion Delarche, James Steelman, Maria Cataldo, Manny Nomikos. Music: Justin Melland.