Review: Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

Phoebe Eyles shares her thoughts on Netflix's latest true crime documentary

Phoebe Eyles
8th June 2020
It was no surprise when Netflix commissioned a documentary on Jeffrey Epstein – an American billionaire with immeasurable power at the centre of an international sex trafficking ring.

Netflix has several big budget true crime documentaries on the platform already and Epstein’s crimes are so harrowing and disturbing that his victims’ stories were always going to draw in viewers. Having watched the four-part series directed by Lisa Bryan and produced by Joe Berlinger, this documentary series is a must watch with a gripping narrative that honours the victims’ voices. It leaves the viewers with much bigger questions – how on earth have powerful men such as Epstein been able to get away with horrific acts for so long?

Many Netflix docu-series’ often have a slow start as they set the scene. This was not the case with Filthy Rich. The first episode propelled the viewers into the mystery surrounding Jeffrey Epstein and started from journalist Vicky Ward writing a business piece on Epstein for Vanity Fair. The transition between those telling their stories was seamless. Ward found two of Epstein’s victims and the documentary moved to those women telling their stories. The documentary feels very personal with all the victims speaking directly to the camera without a reporter in between the viewer and the victims. This makes the show much more emotional and gripping to watch and made me even more angry at how Epstein deliberately targeted vulnerable girls and was able to lure them into his trap.

Credit: IMDb

It also shined a light on the victims and focused predominantly on their stories, though there was a good range of people interviewed. Police involved in the investigation were interviewed as well as lawyers, local journalists and Epstein’s former staff. This made the documentary incredibly well rounded and showed Epstein’s evil nature from all different aspects, particularly how powerful men can get away with so much for too long.  

The documentary is dramatic in its style but never feels like the crimes are being glamourized, which is always a risk with true time documentaries. As a viewer, I felt so sorry for victims and was angered by how Epstein got away with his crimes for so long. Viewers were able to feel even a small slice of frustration and shame that the victims must have felt when we hear how Jeffrey was treated as if he was above the law.

The documentary makes the viewer consider what else men in powerful positions have been able to get away with in the past.

The aspect of the documentary which I found the most eye opening was Epstein’s range of high-profile friends that he was involved with. By now we have all heard about Prince Andrew’s involvement with Epstein and allegations of him sexually abusing vulnerable women. However, other powerful men are said to have been involved with Epstein such as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. The documentary suggests that many powerful, wealthy men were aware and involved with Epstein’s criminal activity, yet Clinton and Trump both distanced themselves from Epstein following his arrest. It is truly astounding that such powerful men were involved with Epstein but claim to know nothing about his crimes. The documentary makes the viewer consider what else men in powerful positions have been able to get away with in the past.

This four-part documentary is an incredibly gripping watch and gives the victims a voice when they have often been silenced in the past. If you have some time on your hands, I would highly recommend watching Filthy Rich.

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