Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Eric Merola's THE ANDORRA HUSTLE may be the documentary entertainment of the year

Not nearly as well known nor prolific as, say, Alex Gibney, the documentarian Eric Merola remains one of my favorites thanks to films such as Burzynski, Second Opinion and now his latest amazement, THE ANDORRA HUSTLE, which may be his best yet. 

Mr. Merola (shown at left) has a mind as keen and steel trap-like as the best lawyer (his movies are as clear and incontrovertible as a top-notch legal brief) and the subjects he tackles -- a cancer doctor whom the medical establishment has tried to discredit, a highly prestigious hospital with a less than sterling record, and now the reason behind the destruction of a bank in one of the smallest countries in the world via the combined efforts of Spain and the USA -- are neither easy nor popular ones. Yet Merola not only perseveres; he wins the day.

To go into heavy detail about the content of The Andorra Hustle is also to give away almost the complete story, so TrustMovies is going to try to interest you in viewing this knockout documentary without simultaneously ruining it. 

I don't know that I'd ever heard of Andorra -- a fascinating, if currently sleazy, little principality -- until now, though I had heard of (and in fact knew quite a bit about) the ongoing struggle of Catalonia for independence from Spain). These two subjects are quite connected, though not until the final third of the film do we begin to understand why and how. 

What we do begin to understand quite quickly and sadly is that grave injustice is being done to individuals (three of whom are shown in the photos above) via huge and powerful institutions. Once we meet these individuals and simply listen to them for even a short while, our own innate sense of justice and decency solidly hook us into their strange and initially almost unbelievable tale. (I suspect that Merola's own sense of decency and justice did the same for him.) How can all this have been allowed to happen?

By the end of The Andorra Hustle, you'll be able to answer that question very well. You'll also have met some of the villains of the tale (one shown above, another below, whose name rhymes with despot), all of whom are continuing to profit from their very bad behavior. 

The documentary lasts very nearly two hours -- that's long for this genre -- yet so utterly riveting is the subject matter and so expertly is it all rolled out for us that I could not look away for even one moment. Best of all, Merola makes such a good case for the "defense" that if the viewer is indeed the judge or jury here, this bank and its splendid employees deserve a lot more than mere recompense.

I have a couple of quibbles: The head of compliance should never have agreed to present that list of possible "suspect" clients at her bank (but that's on her, and does not skew the case itself), and while the connection between Andorra, the bank, and the anti-Catalan Spanish government is definitely indicated, the evidence does not seem as strong as that against FinCEN and Spain for the planned yet completely unnecessary destruction of this Andorran bank and its employees.

Yet in its entirety the documentary makes such a strong and reasonable case against this awful injustice and misuse of power that its viewing seems to me absolutely mandatory. If nothing else, the experience should also prove an exciting exercise in intelligence, logic, lying and lawbreaking for your brain and your heart. The Andorra Hustle is exemplary in every way.

From Merola Productions, running 113 minutes and in English, Spanish and Catalan with English subtitles, the documentary makes it debut today, Tuesday, September 1, via Amazon Prime. Do not miss it! (I certainly hope it will be available on Amazon in Spain and Andorra, but I somehow doubt the latter country will allow this to happen.) Click here to see the film.

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