out of Five
Running time: 120
By turns riveting, rage-inducing and utterly depressing, this is a well made, superbly written documentary that demands to be seen and thoroughly deserves its Oscar nomination.
What's it all about?
Directed by author, academic and ex-internet entrepreneur Charles Ferguson, Inside Job takes on the formidable task of examining and explaining the financial crisis. Narrated by Matt Damon (they should have just called it Matt Damon Explains The Financial Crisis), the film traces the seeds of the crisis back to the Reagan administration and deregulation before illustrating exactly how that lead to the current situation (and explaining just how bleak the current situation is), despite stark warnings being given as early as 2004.
Damon proves a superb narrator and the film is beautifully shot and edited throughout. There's also a streak of dark humour within the film that stops things getting too depressing.
Ferguson has assembled a superb selection of talking heads, including former governor Eliot Spitzer (himself the subject of the equally superb upcoming documentary Client 9) and various financial experts, but the people most responsible (such as Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke) all go for the “Declined to be interviewed for this film,” option.
Throughout the film, Ferguson uses illustrative on-screen graphics and news footage to patiently explain terms like CDOs (Collateralised Debt Obligations), derivatives or credit default swaps that might otherwise go over the audience's head during the average Newsnight report. Ferguson himself never actually appears onscreen but he can often be heard off-screen giving an interviewee (usually a smug-looking banker) a bloody good grilling and frequently prompting the satisfying words, “This interview is over.”
Essentially, Gordon Gekko was right and the entire system is based on greed, with bankers actively making money by betting on the failure of their own enthusiastically endorsed products. It's simply astonishing to think that these people have never been indicted for, at the very least, large-scale fraud, let alone money-laundering, insider trading and a long list of other financial crimes; astonishing, that is, until you realise that every President since (and including) Reagan has had a Wall Street honcho in a key government position. For example, Obama recently re-appointed Ben Bernanke as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, despite several past controversies hanging over his head.
Like all the best political documentaries, Inside Job is informative, thought-provoking and liable to give you a bad case of RAGE. Highly recommended, then, but be warned – watching this film is liable to make you want to smash up a bank or two.