Worth ending explained – what is life worth?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: September 3, 2021 (Last updated: January 4, 2024)
ending of the Netflix film Worth

This article discusses the ending of the Netflix film Worth, so it will contain major spoilers.

Worth is based on the true story of how a Washington-based lawyer, Kenneth Feinberghad, battled cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics to help the victims and families of those affected by 9/11.

After starting with emotional speeches from the families that lost a loved one in 9/11, it cuts to Kenneth Feinberg (played by Michael Keaton), who asks his students, “What is life worth?”. He has his students act out a settlement should Barron (played by Logan Hart) die. To the students, Barron would be worth 2.7 million. 

Worth next shows us Kenneth traveling on the train until he sees the damage to The Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks. As Kenneth’s law firm “The Feinberg Group”, which he runs alongside his partner Camille Biros (played by Amy Ryan), is only one of 5-6 firms with the relevant experience, he gets asked the lead the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

September 22, 2001. A meeting discusses how if the victims or their families attempt to sue the airline industry for damages, it will destroy the economy. Suggestions by the group, which includes Lee Quinn (played by Tate Donovan), include limiting civil suits against airlines and government-sponsored charities. With choices made, Kenneth has to make the difficult choice of how much each life is worth. No one else wants the job. Even President Bush calls Kenneth and tells him that he wouldn’t wish the job on his worst enemy. 

November 26th, 2001. And so it begins. Kenneth introduces his team to a new member, his former graduate Priya Khundi (played by Shunori Ramanathan). She had originally accepted another job, but the job had been based in the Twin Towers. The deadline for the Victim’s Fund is December 22nd, 2003. The unknown amount of victims will make it harder, but Kenneth states that they will not be asking to extend the deadline at all.

Following the fund’s announcement, Kenneth holds a conference to inform the victims how the Victim Compensation Fund works. With them clearly emotional, they get angry over how victims are given different amounts in relation to their jobs with Kenneth’s attempts to talk things over failing. Only Charles Wolf (played by Stanley Tucci), a community organizer mourning the death of his wife, can calm the meeting and thus allow Kenneth to speak. 

Afterward, Kenneth speculates whether he had a poor choice of words during the meeting. His stupidity becomes clear through his conversation with Frank Donato (played by Chris Tardio). Frank, whose brother Nicholas died in the attacks, doesn’t want his brother’s death to mean nothing, and if Kenneth gives him his word, he’ll sign the fund. Kenneth goes to Charles and thanks him for his help during the conference. But Charles is far from a friend. He is one of Kenneth’s harshest critics and wants the fund fixing. He has even created a website called Fix The Fund. If the animosity wasn’t clear by now, a passerby throws a drink at him.

January 2002. Camille and Priya attend a meeting where they state to the people that there will be no effect on their citizenship and immigration status and that each lost life will get them 200,000 dollars. A fact they’re happy about. Meanwhile, Kenneth meets with the representations of upper-class clients unhappy with the figures provided to them.

May 2002. Whilst Kenneth’s team listens to the victims, Kenneth is noticeably absent and he tells Camille to stop playing a recording that one victim, Tom, left to his life partner, Graham Morris (played by Andy Schneeflock). Camille, and in particular Priya, want the rules changing so more help is given to the victims, but Kenneth suggests she is taking the fund too personally. Late one night, with no one else in the building, Kenneth is forced into speaking with Karen Abate (played by Laura Benanti). She’s the widow of Nicholas and Frank’s sister-in-law. Although adamant that she won’t be taking any money, she wants Kenneth to make notes of her husband’s story.

As the cases start to affect Priya, she goes to one of the meetings held by Charles as part of the Fix The Fund campaign. They have a conversation, where she mentions that according to the fund’s spreadsheet, she’d be worth less than Charles’s wife.

November 2002. Fix the Fund is gaining the trust of the people, with the website becoming a hit. Priya states that if they can gain Charles’s trust, they might be able to improve the fund’s reputation. So Kenneth decides to meet with Charles. But after Charles mentions Graham Morris and how he may get no money due to Virginia laws towards same-sex partnerships, the conversation turns heated, and Charles storms out. 

Camille visits Tom’s parents, who deny he was gay and claim that what Graham is saying is a lie. Meanwhile, Kenneth learns that Nicholas had a mistress with two children the cheque will now have to be cut between 5 children. The fund only has 900 people signed to it. After a much-needed speech from Charles, Kenneth sets out to change the fund. He takes a different approach; he meets with the families and listens to their stories.

December 1st, 2003. Kenneth meets with Charles. He tells Charles that Lee is going to tell Charles to cry on cue and to quiver his lip. How does Kenneth know? Because they are very similar people. With Kenneth throwing out the formula of the fund, he tells Charles that he will do everything he can to help the people who come on board.

December 10th, 2003. Kenneth learns that he has until the next day to tell Nicholas’s widow Karen about the update with her case. Although she’s not home when he gets there, Frank meets him. He tells Kenneth that Nicholas went back inside the tower looking for him. They discuss Nicholas’s two daughters, but Karen is around the corner, and she wants to know their names. Kenneth tells Karen that all 5 children will be equally shared against the fund.

Netflix film Worth ending explained

December 19th, 2003. With the fund failing to get the numbers that they wanted as Lee has played on people’s fear and anger, Kenneth meets with him to sign a deal together. But at the last moment, Kenneth refuses to sign a deal. Returning to the office, he learns that Charles is now in favor of the fund. After voicing his support on the Fix The Fund website, more and more people are starting to sign.

It’s triumphant as cases reach 95%. However, Camille calls Graham. She tells him that because of him, the fund has been able to accommodate several cases similar to his in New York. However, as Tom’s parents live in Virginia, they are unable to stop Tom’s parents from getting the money. Karen pays Kenneth a visit. She reveals she had always known about Nicholas’s affair before she personally hands the form for the fund.

As we reach the ending of Worth, the closing moments reveal the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was the only fund of its kind in United States History. It ultimately signed on 97% of eligible claimants, distributing over 7 billion dollars in public money to 5,560 people. Only 94 people declined to participate. 

What did you think of the Netflix film Worth and the ending? Comment below. 

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