Director: Charles Ferguson
“Why should a financial engineer be paid 100 times more than a real engineer? A real engineer builds bridges, a financial engineer builds dreams. And when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.”
With the whole world reeling from the effects of the financial crisis, Inside Job takes a look at where it all began and just who was responsible for a meltdown which has set the global economy back for decades to come.
It’s probably safe to say that there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been affected by the global financial crisis of the last two years. Except that’s not true. There are a few who have escaped unscathed. The very people who caused it. Prepare to be enraged.
Charles Ferguson’s documentary was never going to make for happy viewing, but that doesn’t make it in any way unworthy of your time. Inside Job attempts to do what must have seem like a daunting task at first, explain in layman’s terms exactly what all those investment bankers and Wall Street monkeys did to bring us low, and it succeeds. Trust me, I have the business acumen and financial skills of a dry-roasted peanut and I totally understood it. In this case, however, the understanding comes with a genuine sense of hopelessness and anger.
Taking us back to the Eighties, and Reagan’s deregulation of the banks and financial markets, Inside Job traces the path of greed and corruption which ultimately led us to the hole we are now in. Using interviews and exhaustive research, Ferguson walks us through the finer points of Derivatives, CDOs and Subprime Mortgages, making sense of practices that can seem bewildering at first glance. Which is, of course, just the way they like it. What follows is all the more breathtaking for the fact that it is all real. It is all true. This isn’t an Oliver Stone movie. There are no colourful scoundrels, no Gordon Gekkos to entertain us with their misdeeds. Just a long procession of weasely, unctuous, greedy men and women who made a fortune by riding a system designed to allow them to do just that, cheating millions in the process. And getting away with it.
It is the clarity of Inside Job’s presentation that elevates it above Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, which tackled similar themes back in 2009. That it offers little in the way of comfort is unavoidable when there is little to be had. There is the meagre pleasure of watching the few culprits who agreed to be interviewed squirm under Ferguson’s interrogation, but that’s all. The occasional jump cut during interviews makes you wonder what was left out, but any thoughts of biased editing are rendered moot when the case is so clear and the evidence so substantial.
Inside Job is not going to pass for brain-dead, Saturday night entertainment, and the chances are it will pass many people by. Too bad. I would recommend this to anyone who cares about why their lives have gotten just a little bit harder lately.