REVIEW: Inside Job

What is robbing a bank compared with founding a bank?
– Bertolt Brecht (The Threepenny Opera)

On the surface, Inside Job is concerned with the events and the aftermath of the global financial crisis (GFC). But amidst the various interviews and cultural analysis, Charles Ferguson’s insightful documentary addresses a more fundamental issue of social concern: the leniency (and double standards) surrounding acts of white-collar crime. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scene of a congressional hearing in which Michael Capuano, a Democratic representative for Massachusetts, addresses a panel of banking executives. Comparing them to common thieves he rebukes them: “You come to us today telling us we’re sorry, we won’t do it again; trust us. Well, I have some people in my constituency that actually robbed some of your banks, and they say the same thing”. Beyond the exploration of the GFC and its key players, Inside Job unveils the institutional corruption and hypocrisy at the core of this most recent economic meltdown.

Beginning with Iceland, Inside Job follows the falling dominos of financial ruin through the U.K., Asia and the United States. But rather than simply focus on the events of 2008, Ferguson’s documentary also provides a detailed account of the political and industrial machinations that lead to the crisis. Divided into five sub-chapters Inside Job charts the de-regulation of the financial sector that occurred in the 1980s under President Reagan and subsequent administrations, through the crisis and subsequent bail-outs, before returning to the question, ‘Where are we now?’ In addition to the comprehensive analysis, one of the strengths of Inside Job is the accessible manner in which the impenetrable illogic of the financial market is presented to the audience. Like a psychiatrist relaying the psychotically distorted worldview of a patient to their peers, Ferguson lays bare the insanity of the derivatives market (a contributing factor of the GFC) in a cogent manner: it’s economic madness but Inside Job reveals a method to it nonetheless.

It’s the breadth and the intelligence with which Ferguson presents his exploration of contemporary capitalism (and its resulting crisis) that distinguishes this excellent documentary. Eschewing the increasingly cheap emotional gimmickry characteristic of Michael Moore’s filmmaking, Ferguson’s approach relies on astute research and his incisive interviewing skills to prompt a reaction from the audience. And the result is far more effective. Few documentaries have stirred the intense level of outrage, disbelief and disgust that this film manages to provoke. In its depiction of gross financial negligence and greed, the defiant remorselessness of Wall Street executives with their wilful irresponsibility, and the systemic corruption of government and educational institutions, Inside Job offers a timely (and necessary) clarion call for justice.

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2 Responses to “REVIEW: Inside Job”

  1. Alice says:

    Hear hear! I had exactly the same response – and I loved Ferguson’s Oscar speech:

  • Charles Ferguson's 'Inside Job' Director Oscar Speech Rips Wall Street | FrontPageSearch — June 28, 2011 @ 10:45 am

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