GFC: the diminutive acronym that represents a terrifying truth: 20 trillion dollars in losses and bailouts; in essence, more an Armageddon than a mere Global Financial Crisis. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson chronicles the creation of this financial black hole with the same cool and devastatingly incisive eye that he cast over the Iraq War in No End In Sight. With Ferguson comprehensive mind behind the camera and Matt Damon’s familiar, calmly authoritative tone in narration, Inside Job is likely to be one of the most shocking and edifying cinematic experiences of 2011.
“This is how it happened," the audience is told, as Ferguson carefully states his facts in a five-part documentary of impressive detail and clarity. He opens with a cautionary tale in the form of Iceland, a once secure and stable economy, ripped to shreds by a heady foray into financial deregulation. This sets the disquieting scene for America, as Part I outlines 'How We Got Here,' before moving on to The Bubble, The Crisis, Accountability and, finally, Where We Are Now. If that sounds sandpaper dry, then you'll be pleasantly surprised, as Ferguson keeps up an enthusiastic pace, and his array of talking heads — from the Prime Minister of Singapore, the French Finance Minister, Ivy League and IMF (International Monetary Fund) economists, and a high class escort 'Madam' — are well able to keep your interest and attention.
Unlike Michael Moore's histrionic Capitalism: A Love Story, Inside Job is less about pulling your heartstrings than it is concerned with getting everyone on the same page (though the two would make for a compelling double bill). This documentary feels a lot like 'GFC 101', but presented with enough spirit — particularly in the Accountability chapter — to let you know Ferguson is spitting with fury about the horrifying hubris that has lead Wall Street to reap ludicrous rewards during the bubble, then cry poor for federal bailouts and now cry foul about planned regulation. This seething incredulity is probably responsible for Ferguson's awfully trite ending, closing on an earnest shot of the Statue of Liberty, but as a call to arms he certainly landed on an arresting symbol.
“Nothing comes without consequence,” Inside Job makes its thesis all too clear. But alas Ferguson also reveals a horrifying portrait of a financial system running amok. As Andrew Sheng, the Chief Advisor to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, highlights in an all too convincing analogy: this is an industry obsessed with feathering their nests by building impossible dreams, while others are forced to pay for the nightmares.
Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 17 February 2011