It is easy to make a lovable anti hero in fiction. As The Sopranos and Breaking Bad have proved, if you give a bad guy a redeemable quality or two, viewers will be willing to overlook some of the more monstrous things they do. This is a little more difficult in real life. It simply is not as easy to forgive when actual people and events are involved.
The documentary The Blech Effect is a great example. The film focuses on David Blech, the man who was an instrumental part of the biotech industry. The Wall Street investor made himself and others millions of dollars. Now, he is $11 million in debt and looking at jail time.
Audiences will be of two opinions when the documentary is over. Some will feel for Blech. Filmmaker David Greenwald paints him in a positive light for the most part. Even if Blech is never made out to be a hero, he certainly is not positioned as the villain of the story. Instead, the misdeeds of his life are told as more of a cautionary tale that could happen to anybody.
Greenwald is able to do this effectively by introducing the audience to Blech’s family. His wife is very supportive and understanding. Blech’s son is autistic and loves his father very much. The Blech Effect reveals that the disgraced investor was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. He also has a gambling addiction that may have led to his inability to avoid jumping from one large investment to another. In totality, it paints Blech as a very sad character that will earn the pity of some of the audience.
Others will think much less of Blech. Through his own admission, Blech treated like the stock market like it was a game. The Blech Effect is mainly told from the main character’s point of view. While this is not surprising, it prevents any dissenting voices from being heard. It is hard for the documentary to not sound like a “woe is me” lament at times. Some will find this stifling.
Whatever a person’s opinion of Blech, the documentary does a great job of building of tension. Whether rooting for him to finally succeed or wanting Blech to fail yet again, the last act is drama filled. At this point, the audience is forced to ask of The Blech Effect the same questions David Blech asks of himself the entire time. Is it too late?
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