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Inside Job - Review

Inside Job

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CHARLES Ferguson’s Inside Job is one of the most infuriating experiences you’re ever likely to watch. It’s also one of the most essential.

An examination of the global financial meltdown of 2008, and narrated by Matt Damon, the film intelligently traces the cause of the crisis and exposes its perpetrators, before attempting to put some of them on the spot.

What’s more, it does so by avoiding the kind of showboating more commonly associated with the documentary style filmmaking of Michael Moore to present a sobering, anger-inducing but highly eye-opening insight into the unethical – but amazingly not illegal – practices of big banks and their advisers.

And while we all know we got screwed by the banks during the crisis, some of the facts still make for alarming viewing.

Did you know, for instance, that by allowing financial institutions to trade on their own behalf, those same institutions then made money by encouraging their clients to invest in no hope situations while betting against them?

And while such dubious practices have now been exposed and outrage expressed, many of the people responsible have since risen to prominent, highly paid positions without the threat of prosecution.

Ferguson’s film takes Iceland as an early case study for what happened in America and then follows the origins of the crisis from the deregulation in Wall Street in the late ‘80s to the 2001 dot.com crash and the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman weekend.

He interviews some 42 people, from politicians and academics to business strategists and prostitutes – who also benefited from providing a service to city high rollers.

Yet throughout, former academic and software business manager Ferguson maintains a sober perspective. He intelligently and articulately questions those brave enough to come out and speak to him. And he puts forward a set of facts that, while certainly requiring patience and attention to follow, are critical for every person to see and follow.

Admittedly, the conclusions the film draws are downbeat. And the real people responsible for ruining the lives of so many others (globally) remain out of reach. They are, to all intents and purposes, unaccountable.

But by naming and shaming, and even making us aware of the practices of our financial rulers, Inside Job should make us more astute moving forward. And he even gives us the odd moment to savour, such as drawing an agitated response from people like Glenn Hubbard, the former economic adviser to Bush, who is seen to genuinely get hot under the collar and squirm.

Such moments are the closest anyone is likely to get to seeing such highly paid execs brought to account by the people they hurt the most.

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Certificate: 12A
Running time: 109mins
UK Release Date: February 18, 2011