Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich review – the other side of a shocking story

November 25, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film, Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
3

Summary

Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich doesn’t reveal anything new in the already widely-publicised case, but it does provide a focused look at the life and crimes of someone who was equally as culpable as Epstein himself.

3

Summary

Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich doesn’t reveal anything new in the already widely-publicised case, but it does provide a focused look at the life and crimes of someone who was equally as culpable as Epstein himself.

Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich opens with a content warning, and this review will do the same: The content of this documentary involves descriptions of sexual abuse against minors which some may find very disturbing.


Ghislaine Maxwell was made for scandal.

Of all the world’s sexual predators, or so this new Netflix documentary feature directed by Maiken Baird and Lisa Bryant tells us, only 5% of them are women. No suggestion is given of what the quintessential female sexual predator might look like, but we’re to understand that it isn’t anything like Ghislaine Maxwell, a beautiful, Oxford-educated English socialite decked in designer gear and often seen hanging from the arm of her wildly successful businessman father, Robert Maxwell. This was, it seems, why she was so able to lure young women, many of them minors, into the crosshairs of Jeffrey Epstein — nobody suspected she was an accomplice, let alone a perpetrator in her own right.

In 2020, Netflix released a four-part docuseries titled Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, a shocking account of how money and status allowed a man to set up a sex trafficking ring on his literal doorstep. Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich unpacks the same scandal from a new angle, that of Epstein’s ex-girlfriend turned lover/PA/”best friend”, who opened the doors to high society and royalty through which Epstein would eventually shunt a litany of unsuspecting children, several of whom are present in this new documentary feature.

Joining them are Ghislaine’s former friends and associates, and various legal professionals. Their descriptions of Ghislaine are frighteningly consistent, painting a picture of a charming, intelligent woman of means and manners, an attentive hostess, but also someone with obvious sexual charisma that often crossed a line into sexual aggression and coercion. We get descriptions of dinner parties in which a game was made of blindfolded men trying to identify topless women by fondling their breasts. Much is made of massages, and in almost every description of Epstein’s obvious abuse, Ghislaine is either present or lurking nearby, asking his victims how they found the experience.

The documentary is clear in its assertion that what Ghislaine found in Epstein was a replacement for her father following his death, another man of boundless means and influence who could continue to fund the lifestyle that had become her identity. Nobody seemed entirely sure of the exact nature of their relationship, but everyone agreed it wasn’t healthy. It quickly became an open secret that Ghislaine was procuring young women for Epstein’s perverse enjoyment.

Like the docuseries unpacking Epstein himself, Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich is clinical in style, speaking mostly in the voices of those who were used and abused by Epstein and Maxwell, and chronicling the breadth of Maxwell’s life from her wealthy upbringing and Oxford education to her relationship with Epstein, her nonprofit environmental work with TerraMar, and her eventual arraignment and prosecution on five sex trafficking-related counts in a U.S. federal court. The 101-minute runtime doesn’t allow for considerable depth, but it’s enough time and space to paint a clear, damning portrait of a woman who was as culpable in Epstein’s crimes as Epstein himself.

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