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TV review: ‘Too Big to Fail’

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William Hurt stars in the HBO movie “Too Big to Fail.”

The Details

Too Big to Fail
Two and a half stars
May 23, 9 p.m., HBO

There’s a scene around the middle of the HBO movie Too Big to Fail in which Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (William Hurt) and his staffers explain in simple terms the causes of the financial crisis of late 2008. Although it’s little more than exposition, that single scene is more illuminating than the rest of the movie, which deploys a legion of famous faces to depict corporate and government figures who are otherwise largely faceless, essentially re-enacting the top news stories of a few years ago. Only Paulson emerges as a well-rounded character, and Hurt does a good job of making him sympathetic while also clearly in a bit over his head. Although it’s handsomely directed (by the Oscar-nominated Curtis Hanson) and competently acted, Too Big, even with its narrow focus on the events of fall 2008, tackles too much story with too little narrative drive. Better to read a book or watch a documentary on the subject.

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