The next element that allows the film to be so effective is all the interviews. Hodge talks to Ghostface Killah about Shkreli’s Wu-Tang feud, disgraced right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulous, rapper/Shkreli’s best friend Billy The Fridge, ex-girlfriends, lawyers, several reporters such as Meg Tirrell, and doctors like Dr. Judith Aberg. Each interview reveals something either about Shkreli himself, or the state of politics and culture in the U.S. and the system that allowed him to legally buy the drug and change the price more or less overnight (none of this gets into the moral reprehensibility of such an act). By casting such a wide net and relating it back to a known entity, Shkreli, the filmmaker ably examines politics, culture, and even narcissism in a relatable, grounded way.
However, the smartest move Hdoge makes throughout Pharma Bro is that he never asks the audience to root for or like the subject. Instead, he wants to give a well-rounded picture so that his actions at least make some sense to those watching. But actively trying to change most people’s minds and get them to like him? He wisely does not even try that angle as it would be an uphill battle, considering how caustic and reactionary the criminal can be. The director also injects a nice amount of levity into the proceedings, partially due to the fact that he moves into the same building as Shkreli in an attempt to get close to him.
“…swiftly paced, engaging, and exhaustive…”
However, there is one minor quibble with the film to be hashed out. Early on, Hodge travels to Albania, where his parents are from. There, he tracks down family members and asks them to expound upon their thoughts of the embattled man back in the states. While their answers might shock some, it remains unclear how much of the narrative his relatives are privy to. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why that is an issue. So, yes, the problem with the movie is that there simply isn’t enough of it.
Pharma Bro is a swiftly paced, engaging, and exhaustive look into the scandals that put Martin Shkreli on the map and turned him into the “most hated man in America.” He also examines political polarization and pharmaceutical companies and their shady practices, all while delivering one brilliant interview one after the other. Who knew such a reprehensible man could be fodder for such a phenomenal documentary?
"…if that sounds like a lot of movie, well, it is."