Inside Job is an exhaustive look into the recent global financial crisis. It covers the history, causes, consequences and aftermath of the crisis, and does it pretty well. Narrated by everyone’s favourite lefty, Matt Damon, Inside Job mightn’t sound like a fun night out, and at 120 minutes, it certainly isn’t in a hurry, but it does get its point across.
I’d be lying if I said that the film didn’t lose me more than once, however. Since most things to do with the economy soar over my head, it isn’t surprising that I’d have trouble relating all of the critical points of the film back to you hooplarians. That being said, the alternative is the likes of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, and Moore is often the target of criticism for cutting corners and being overly simplistic in an effort to get his point across to the common man, so I guess we can’t have it both ways. Inside Job definitely can’t be accused of doing the same.
At first I was a little uneasy at how tightly edited the talking heads are in this film. We regularly see cuts used, either to get a point across more succinctly or to make a tongue-tied person on the receiving end of a particularly difficult question look even more foolish. But then I realised that this is actually a good thing – we know where the edits are, rather than in a lot of other docos which use cutaways to iron over the edits. It’s an honest, if less than glossy, approach.
The main culprits behind the deregulation of the financial sector, the Government response and the lobbying on behalf of financial institutions are absent from Inside Job, which the film goes out of its way to let us know. It’s hardly surprising, either, since the few people who would have ulterior motives – such as the heads of economics departments at various universities (who also make oodles of cash for speaking at various occasions for the big financial companies) – ultimately dig their own grave. The filmmaker constantly poses the question as to whether there is a conflict of interest when the heads of economics departments training the financial “engineers” of tomorrow are themselves given cash bonuses by Big Business and the people in question look the interviewer straight in the face and say “no”.
The film does get distracted once or twice. A particular sub-plot seems to be concerned with the type of things these Wall Street folks spend their money on (exceedingly expensive hookers, basically), and whilst it’s interesting, it’s not really relevant. A brief discussion with a psychologist that’s worked with many of these people is similarly off-topic – the best he can say is that these people are addicted to taking risks. But these are small complaints in an otherwise masterfully compiled documentary.
By the end of Inside Job, someone as naïve as me was stunned at this explanation of predatory lending, debt made profitable (whilst being turned into more debt) and the laws passed to free the financial sector from restrictive (read: common sense) regulations. This truly has to be seen to be believed.Rating: