Director: Charles H. Ferguson
Bankers currently rate alongside puppy stranglers and war criminals in the ‘Most Popular People in the World’ rankings. Unsurprisingly, “Inside Job,” the Oscar nominated documentary that examines the causes and effects of the global financial crisis, doesn’t exactly paint them in the most positive light. But, to be fair, many of the economists and bankers interviewed don’t do themselves many favors at all.
Narrated by Matt Damon, the film takes a chronological approach into examining how the US financial system began its descent into chaos. Showing how the warning signs were ignored (when the seemingly stable economy of Iceland collapsed) and examining how the banks continually juggled debt to maximize profitability. Lengthy interviews with the likes of Eliot Spitzer (the former governor of New York) and Charles R. Morris (author of The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown) amongst many others sit alongside explanations of the complex systems of repayments and loans, and shows a system driven by greed and mass incompetence that was bound to collapse.
Charles H. Ferguson avoids the polemic of the likes of Michael Moore (though – in his role of interviewer – you can tell he gets agitated by some of the blatant dodging of questions made by some of his subjects), instead opting for letting the story tell itself. And that it does, with many of his interviewees unable to account for their actions (and massive personal fortunes) with their evasiveness both uncomfortable and maddening (it’s also telling how many people refused to be interviewed for the film). The film also manages to make the complex situation more understandable and there’s a sad air of impotent rage as you realize that many people have walked away with vast fortunes at the expense of others. Similarly, the fact that Obama seems to be filling his advisory roles with the people who helped cause the crisis does not bode well for the future.
Damon’s narration is measured and well-written (though one questions the act of having a multi-millionaire lament the fact that people have lost money) and this is a powerful and coherent work that will explain where the money has gone. It just can’t help get restitution against those who did it.