‘Soros’ Review: A Philanthropist in the Spotlight

Opening with a montage in which the financier George Soros is shown as the object of unrelenting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the documentary “Soros” positions itself as a corrective. The movie highlights Soros’s life as a Holocaust survivor, successful investor and, mainly, philanthropist. It lays out how Soros contributed to such causes as fighting apartheid, aiding democratizing forces in the Soviet Union and, lately, a closing title card says, helping Covid-19 relief efforts.

This isn’t an objective portrait and doesn’t aspire to be. Directed by Jesse Dylan, who for several years did video production work for Soros’s philanthropic organization Open Society Foundations (and also directed an “American Pie” sequel), the film boasts interviews with Soros, his adult children and various humanitarians who have worked with him. It’s light on biographical detail. While we hear about Soros’s upbringing and influences (like his father or the philosopher Karl Popper), the most insight we get into his business career is in an anecdote about how he reacted to news of financial troubles at Rolls-Royce.

But even as hagiography, “Soros” is unfocused; it races from topic to topic, with clips that seem arbitrary at best. (To describe the atmosphere at the fall of the Soviet Union, why not cut to James Hetfield of Metallica?) “George always feels an individual can make a difference, and doesn’t hesitate to try,” says Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, in an interview, offering a typical platitude. Soros is forthright in acknowledging that his wealth has made such difference-making easier. It hasn’t, however, made him a dynamic movie subject.

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.

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