Marc Dreier in a documentary" Unraveled" directed by Marc H....

Marc Dreier in a documentary" Unraveled" directed by Marc H. Simon. Credit: Unraveled Productions

As director Marc H. Simon's remarkable documentary "Unraveled" makes clear right away, Marc Dreier would be the most famous white-collar criminal in America, if it weren't for a guy named Bernie Madoff.

From the magisterial offices of his Park Avenue law firm, Dreier, beginning in 2002, stole upward of $740 million from clients, companies and hedge funds, constructed a byzantine Ponzi scheme and a lifestyle as strategic as it was lavish. "I didn't steal money to buy things," he says, "I bought things so I could steal money." A perception of success was how Dreier, who grew up in Lawrence, conned the lenders from whom he borrowed, from each to pay the other. And, as he very candidly admits, it was also how he managed to con himself.

Via interviews conducted in 2009, over 60 days of house arrest in Dreier's plush Manhattan penthouse, where he was held between his guilty plea and his sentencing, Dreier talks with what has to be construed as wary candor.

Simon, too, is a lawyer, as well as a director of diverse documentaries ("Nursery University"), so Dreier is faced with an interrogator he can't really snooker on matters of jurisprudence. And whatever Dreier says can't help him regarding the 20-year sentence he'll be getting from Jed Rakoff (the same federal judge who dismissively threw out the $33 million Bank of America settlement with the SEC). Dreier is frank about what he did and why ("status") and seems to feel genuine pain over the anguish and loss he has caused others, particularly his family (son Spencer is the only one who appears on camera).

The portrait Simon creates of Dreier is a mix of cockiness, anguish, myopia (he worries about being able to watch Mets games in prison) and dread: When Madoff receives a 150-year sentence, Dreier visibly ages. As both man and metaphor, Drier is a pretty potent subject.

PLOT Lawyer and con man Marc Dreier, awaiting sentencing on his multimillion-dollar swindles, comes clean about himself, his offenses and the finer points of being a white-collar criminal. Unrated

CAST Marc Dreier, Spencer Dreier


PLAYING AT Malverne Cinema 5

BOTTOM LINE Remarkable portrait of a man who may not win one's sympathies but takes his shot.

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