Calculating the incalculable

In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and D.C., the government and the airlines established the massive Victim Compensation Fund. Well and good. But the inevitable question quickly arose: Who gets how much? In insurance terms of calculating the value of the part of a life left unlived, should a CEO receive greater compensation than a janitor? Or are all lives valued equally?

The colossally thankless job of sorting all this out (true story) fell to renowned mediator in such disbursements Ken Feinberg, made special master for the fund. Initially and understandably cynical and tone-deaf, Feinberg, with the unlikely help of community organizer Charles Wolfe, his logical foe who lost his wife in the WTC, gradually comes to grips with the true costs of the tragedy. 

Okay, few films about messy actuarial settlements, however important, make interesting cinema. But Director Sara Colalgelo and writer Max Borenstein take a pretty good crack at it, humanizing the situation and keeping things in the moment. But it is their wise casting of Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci that elevates this procedural from potential melodrama to something we can all learn from. This film gets it. (118 min)