Most of the time when you hear about sexual exploitation and abuse, you expect to see the face of a man. Whether through physical domination, psychological manipulation or powerful connections, sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein and Drake Bell have become synonymous with the #MeToo movement. One of the most infamous cases of sex trafficking in the US has got to be that of Jeffrey Epstein. A powerful socialite who sold young women, including minors, to world leaders and famous figures.
The thing is…he wasn’t alone. Believe it or not, his wife Ghislaine Maxwell too was involved in Epstein’s sick machinations. In fact, she even participated in some of the atrocities against these girls. She was the face that most of these women trusted before realising the hell they were about to be put through.
In the past, Netflix has released a documentary on Jeffrey Epstein entitled “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich”. Are there more insights to be gained from this documentary film that explores the story from the angle of his partner? Or, like in the case of “Tiger King 2”, will this be another, pointless cashgrab trying to capitalise on the controversy of Epstein? Let’s find out!
Right off the bat, “Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich” is far better paced than its four-part predecessor chronicling the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein. While the first documentary did well in laying out the groundwork with regard to the audience’s introduction to Jeffrey Epstein, its constant reliance on testimonies and interviews from victims and supplementary information did begin to wear down its engagement factor. Here, the documentary film’s runtime of a little over an hour and a half is just right to set up Ghislaine’s role in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
In a way, the documentary film can be seen as a three-part series. The first quarter of the film focuses on Ghislaine Maxwell’s relationship with her partner Jeffrey Epstein and her personality. Unlike Epstein’s documentary, we actually got some pretty interesting accounts from former friends of Ghislaine like Euan Rellie. We also get to hear about she managed to woo and charmed young girls like Liz Stein into hanging out with her and her social circle. Then, when she could get them all alone, she’d begin to psychologically manipulate them into doing her bidding. She even forced one of the girls to join her and Jeffrey in a threesome. Needless to say, it’s pretty harrowing stuff.
That being said, it’s hard to take things too seriously when you have her former friends and acquaintances vaguely describe how toxic her relationship was with Epstein. Statements like “there was a darkness about their relationship” and how Epstein “reeked of vice” had us chuckling. At best this sounds like gossip, at worst like poorly written lines in a soap opera. It borders on cartoonish. Throughout this segment, the documentary tries to play on the ambiguity of how responsible Ghislaine was in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring. Was she some poor pawn sucked into his twisted game? Or was she a willing collaborator? The answer lies somewhere in between and the lengths that this film goes to play up the two sides is exhausting.
The second part deals with the way she used her connections and natural charisma to get her victims like Annie Farmer away from the prying eyes. She would invite them over to her secluded home in New Mexico. There, they would be taken in by all the extravagance and treated like royalty. Then when their guard was down, Ghislaine and Epstein would slowly but surely pressure them to engage physically with them. This included both of them groping these girls, and having them massage their feet before simply sexually assaulting them.
The final part of the documentary is a fairly meaty condensation of the lead-up to Ghislaine’s eventual arrest. In the fallout of Epstein’s arrest, there was a time when she actively evaded the authorities by travelling around the world, hoping that the media would simply pin all the blame on her husband. When she was finally brought before trial, this is where the documentary begins to shine. Here, we see the mental gymnastics Ghislaine’s lawyers resorted to in an attempt to paint her as a victim in Epstein’s perverted business. This, however, doesn’t bode well for her when anonymous victims like “Kate” and “Jane” came forward to testify about how Ghislaine groomed them while they were still minors.
If we had to describe the documentary film, it would be one part dramatic autobiography, one part psychological thriller and one part legal drama. If you haven’t been following the ups and downs of Epstein’s case and alleged suicide, then we’d say “Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich” is a mostly captivating portrait of how wealth, power and toxic relationships can corrupt a person into doing heinous acts. For us though, we found it ultimately disappointing for one particular reason…it never tells us the names of the clients!
This failure isn’t something particularly unique to Netflix’s “Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich”, with plenty of documentaries about Epstein tip-toeing around this issue. Still, it’s getting a little annoying at this point. We’ve heard plenty of accounts of the women abused and the abusers but there isn’t even an active discussion about the list of powerful men to which they were sold to.
Epstein and Ghislaine have been seen interacting with figures like Prince Andrew of the British Royal Family, President Donald Trump, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and even freaking Elon Musk! We get a small montage of news reports about these powerful figures’ response to Epstein and nothing else. We belabour this point because the clients who exploited these poor girls are just as vital to understanding the whole sex trafficking operation as Epstein and Ghislaine’s involvement. If you can overlook this lack of closure, then there’s certainly some value here.
Netflix’s “Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich” is a briskly paced, effective portrait that deftly summarises the key details of an important player in one of the world’s most infamous sex trafficking scandals. For those coming in without a clue, you’ll leave shook. For those expecting to finally unearth some juicy new details about Epstein and Ghislaine’s black book of secret Johns then this is not for you. We’re starting to think we’ll never truly know the full length of their clientele…perhaps it lies dead with Epstein’s body.
Netflix's "Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich" Review
Netflix's "Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich" is a briskly paced, effective portrait that deftly summarises the key details of an important player in one of the world's most infamous sex trafficking scandals. For those coming in without a clue, you'll leave shook. For those expecting to finally unearth some juicy new details about Epstein and Ghislaine's black book of secret Johns then this is not for you.
- Netflix's "Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich" Review