Film Review: The Blech Effect

STUDIO: Virgil Films | DIRECTOR: David Greenwald
RELEASE DATE: Aug. 25, 2020
SPECS: NR | 87 min. | Documentary 2.39:1 widescreen

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

Can you do depressing and fascinating at the same time?

If so, have I got a film for you: The Blech Effect, a documentary that is one big downer yet you can’t look away.

The Blech Effect centers on one David Blech, a one-time a biotech hotshot. The Brooklyn native’s credits are impressive to say the least: the former co-owner of companies that are now worth billions of dollars, in the early Nineties, Blech was on the Forbes 400 and worth hundreds of millions of dollars himself. Among his companies’ triumphs were two anti-cancer drugs, Cialis and a test to detect female sterility. Blech, his companies and his partner, his now-estranged brother, were featured in magazines and seen often on television.

When we meet David circa 2013 in The Blech Effect—which became an industry name given to those who, like David, were able to cash in big-time by bundling a huge investment, technology and science–things have changed radically. He’s living week by week facing eviction from his New York City apartment with his wife Margaret and 14-year-old autistic son Evan, $11 million in debt, and facing a prison term for two counts of securities fraud for which he could spend years behind bars.

How the mighty have fallen.

We learn that Blech’s precarious situation has links to his bipolar affliction and a serious gambling addiction. If sentenced for incarceration, he will be leaving Margaret and Evan, who has costly medical bills, to fend for themselves. But there is one possible way out of his financial situation and it’s a possible hefty return on a company working on a drug to help Alzheimer’s patients. The family’s future may depend on the rescheduling of David’s sentencing

The Blech Effect is a painstakingly honest, up-close-and-personal look at a man and family in crisis. Little is spared in depicting the tragic circumstances of their situation. And for this reason, it’s both difficult to watch yet essential at the same time. First-time feature director David Greenwald takes you into the Blech household, lets you eavesdrop on the conversations he has with his wife and son, and shares the everyday angst they live with on a daily basis.

It’s a dose of reality you won’t forget and one of the most honest documentaries you are likely to see.

The Blech Effect is available to watch on major streaming platforms.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.