Streamer: Apple TV+
Length: 8 x episodes (60 minutes each approx)
2022 is the year of the charming con artist, at least on telly. In the last couple of months alone we’ve had Netflix’s take on fake German heiress Anna Delvey, Inventing Anna, and Disney+’s show about the whole Elizabeth Holmes fiasco, The Dropout.
Now, Apple TV+ enters the arena with WeCrashed, an eye-opening account of the infamous rise and fall of shared workspace company WeWork that boasts two lead performances you simply won’t be able to take your eyes off.
WeCrashed is the wild true story of Adam Neumann (Jared Leto), the charismatic Israeli co-founder of WeWork and Rebekah Neumann (Anne Hathaway), his directionless, New Agey wife (who is also Gwyneth Paltrow's cousin, FYI).
At first glance, they seem an odd couple, and indeed Rebekah does not much care for Adam when they initially meet. He’s pushy, arrogant and penniless, convinced of his own genius and constantly hustling.
Rebekah, on the other hand, is soul searchingly introspective, super into yoga and a passionate vegan. And yet despite (and perhaps because) of their differences, and Adam's almost pathological positivity, the pair become a hot item.
During this whirlwind courtship, Adam basically badgers and bullies his way into starting a company with Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin) and WeWork is born. And against all the odds? It’s a huge success, elevating him and the missus to almost rockstar status.
And right when things are at their peak? Everything seems to go horribly, inexorably wrong.
If Inventing Anna is about the toxic allure of fame and status, and The Dropout a story of good intentions turned bad, then WeCrashed is a tale of hubris writ large and ego made manifest.
WeWork is actually a pretty great idea, but Neumann was never content to grow his company organically. He wanted to be the next Amazon, the new Facebook and his constant expansion in the face of fiscal reality became his downfall.
All good and well, but the question becomes: how do you make this tale entertaining for eight episodes? And the answer is: get two amazing lead actors doing some of their best work.
Now, look, Jared Leto. He’s become something of a punching bag of late and it’s not hard to see why. He was an awful Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad and his performance in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci was one Koopa Stomp away from being Super Mario.
That said, he’s fabulous in this. Underneath a vaguely convincing prosthetic nose and coloured contacts, Leto makes Neumann so oddly likeable you feel like investing in the damn company yourself!
Anne Hathaway, however, is the standout success here. Arguably given the harder of the two lead roles, she manages to embody all the many contradictions of Rebekah and have you, if not exactly like her, definitely feel for her.
Hathaway seems to have fallen out of favour of late, which is sad, because she’s a superb actress and this is her finest work in yonks, probably since the criminally overlooked genre-crosser Colossal (2016).
Having the leads be so good makes you actually want to root for these weirdos, which can be a frustrating experience. Because if they’d just been a little less greedy, a smidge less narcissistic, things could have turned out differently.
But really, isn’t that the tragedy of all of these sorts of stories? These people just don’t know when to stop.
As the opening credits imply, WeCrashed is the story of a man who thought he was a unicorn. But the thing is, unicorns aren’t real. They’re just horses wearing silly hats. And Adam Neumann was just a charismatic salesman who overestimated his own abilities.
Still, it’s a hell of a yarn, and as imperfect and frustrating as these people are, their love story is rather sweet and their downfall all the more tragic. All of which adds up to some compulsive, addictive entertainment.
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