Inside Job


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Inside Job
"Charles Ferguson's documentary - unlike the subject matter he is broaching - makes a virtue of economy."

Charles Ferguson's documentary - unlike the subject matter he is broaching - makes a virtue of economy. His examination of what led to the recent financial crisis - mostly huge amounts of fraud - and why the reaction of the American government, in particular, is unlikely to stop a repeat performance, is powerful in its simplicity.

He uses few bells and whistles to illustrate how, through a series of baby steps such as the scaling back of bank regulations, financial institutions got to the point where they were actually placing wagers against the very customers they were supposed to be backing. Ferguson is angry, but he doesn't just fire off a barage of insults and show you a few stunts as more populist documentarians such as Morgan Spurlock or Michael Moore might. Rather, he takes a deep breath and starts to build a forceful argument from the ground up so that even the casual viewer who brings no prior knowledge of banking to the table can understand and get pretty damn angry, too.

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He invests his argument with thorough research and a solid historical backbone, assisted ably by the narration of Matt Damon, who takes us back to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 to examine how attitudes to banking and finance, from within and outside the industry, came to be where they are today.

He also makes some smart music choices - Peter Gabriel's Big Time, for example - and populates the film with well-chosen interviewees, several of whom squirm when he places their vested interests under scrutiny. Although, unsurprisingly, many of those he pinpoints as orchestrators do not submit to questioning, Ferguson's research is meticulous and he shows actions and quotes from them in other circumstances to provide plenty of fuel for his flames.

What is particularly worrying about Inside Job is the conclusions Ferguson draws regarding the links between financial institutions, the economists who are supposed to be acting as independent observers but who frequently have conflicts of interest, and the US government itself. Politicians of all colours are shown to be badly in thrall to these snake oil financiers, with even Barack Obama drawing his economic advisers from those who facilitated the crisis in the first place.

Watching it will make you feel very angry indeed - and scarily impotent in the face of a banking behemoth that will do anything to avoid being reined in.

Reviewed on: 16 Feb 2011
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Documentary examining the US economic meltdown, which suggests it was no accident.
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Director: Charles Ferguson

Writer: Chad Beck, Adam Bolt

Starring: Matt Damon

Year: 2010

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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