As a New York-based litigation consulting firm, one of the things we at DOAR are most known for is our work on high-profile Wall Street white collar crime cases. Partly because of these experiences, we were riveted by Marc H. Simon’s documentary about the convicted fraud Marc Dreier called Unraveled.
This documentary takes place during the two-month period during the high-profile attorney turned convicted fraudster Marc Dreier’s house arrest as he awaits sentencing. The director of the film was actually an attorney in Dreier’s firm who was there when Dreier’s fraud was exposed and the Dreier firm collapsed.
In the film, Dreier describes how he began and continued to perpetrate his fraud of taking out loans under false pretenses and then how he was eventually caught. While mulling around in his fabulous apartment (with a terrace the size of most New Yorkers’ apartments), he gets grocery deliveries from Fresh Direct and describes his remorse while an armed guard sits watching television in his living room.
While his description of his descent into criminal activity is fascinating, Dreier’s relationship to the documentary itself is even more so. As he describes his past attempts to show the world his preferred image in order to perpetuate the fraud, he is also clearly using the documentary to show his new preferred image as a remorseful, forgivable man. The director shows us this most clearly in a scene in which Simon interviews Dreier’s teenage son. Although it appears that the boy is speaking candidly about his father, Simon’s camera reveals that Dreier is in fact watching over his son’s interview from the doorway.
Throughout the film, we get a view of Dreier’s preparations for his sentencing from his sometimes contentious strategy meetings with his attorney Gerald Shargel and a meeting with a prison consultant describing his options as if he were a travel agent. Dreier wants to tell us that he is humbled by his experiences, but we see in his behavior that he is still an arrogant man trying to control the action by talking his way into or out of any predicament.
Overall, this film provides a rarely seen view of the makings and aftermath of a white collar crime. More so, though, we get a glimpse into the psyche of a criminal who, while characteristically trying to control the message, gives us more information than he intends.