– Summary –
Director : Charles Ferguson
Year Of Release : 2010
Principal Cast : Various, narrated by Matt Damon
Approx Running Time : 118 Minutes
Synopsis: A dissection of the events, people and decisions which led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, a crisis which very nearly plunged the world into another Great Depression.
What we think : Inside Job will make you angry. Really angry. A powerful indictment on the financial sector which drove everyone into the Global Financial Crisis, the film uncovers the festering scab of greed, corruption and financial mismanagement that literally brought the world to its knees. If this doesn’t make you question your home loan, your financial institution, or even wary of any shift in economic propriety, then you’re living with your head in the sand.
Greedy f@kcin’ Americans.
As an outsider looking in, Inside Job is an infuriating, rage-fueled, searing example of how a few peoples’ greed has nearly plunged the world into the financial stone-age. Back in 2009, the world learned a new phrase: “global financial crisis”. Major banks, lenders and other financial institutions, most of whom were based in New York’s Wall Street, began to collapse, writing off millions, nay billions of dollars of bad debt in the bizarrely named “subprime mortgage” market. During the GFC, we also learned several new phrases, the most egregious being the “debt ceiling”, which only recently closed the US Government since it could no longer pay its workers to… you know, work. For the average person, the GFC saw pension plans evaporate (my own parents were effected to a small degree), stocks and bonds crash through the basement, and families forced to walk away from their houses as the money dried up. The shadow of Michael Douglas’ Gordon Geko, in Wall Street, berating students that “greed…. is good”, cut the financial institutions of America off at the knees, sending a tsunami of pain and suffering across the globe. It plunged Europe into a crisis – anybody remember Greece threatening to pull the plug on the black hole of financial ruin across the continent? – and forced millions upon millions of people around the world to the unemployment line. That tsunami, as ethereal as several dollars on a server somewhere, still continues to reverberate around our planet.
What’s hardest to swallow about it all, whether it’s “who knew”, “who did”, or “who cares”, the simple fact of the matter is that to this day, not one person has been indicted, charged, or found guilty of any wrongdoing in the events leading up to the GFC and the US Government’s bailout of several of the world’s largest financial institutions, plunging their own country into a debt spiral that it simply cannot possibly escape. This lack of accountability, a collective slap to the face of innocent citizens who lost everything in the wake of these peoples’ greed, grates, and grates severely. Inside Job, released in 2010, is a fresh-in-the-mind documentary that attempts to explain how, why, and who made it all happen, how it happened, and the serious Swiss-cheese holes that allowed it to happen. Written and directed by Charles Ferguson, Inside Job interviews many of the players in this saga (although, it must be said, none of the main ones, all of whom “declined to be interviewed” for the production), drawing out commentary on the events leading up to the GFC and the sheer insanity of the financial markets in America, particularly the unregulated derivatives market, which drove the subprime mortgage industry and led to the collapse of the banks.
While Ferguson himself never appears on camera – the film is narrated by Matt Damon, while Ferguson’s interview questions can be heard from off-camera – he presents himself as almost a Michael Moore-esque bait-and-switch master. Several people interviewed, who obviously felt they were there to promote themselves, suddenly seem to find themselves in the glare of guilt and shame as Ferguson hits them with questions that the subjects feel they can’t answer without indicting themselves; several times you get the “can you switch the camera off” line, as the uncomfortable, awkward questioning persists. The film makes the events, the concepts, and the people involved, as simplistic as it possibly can, in order to allow everyone to understand the material; as imbecilic as I am about financial matters, I must praise the film on a job well done in this regard.
Inside Job should make you angry. Really angry. It’s the kind of film where, as you watch, you can feel the bile and hatred rising up in your throat, wanting to take some of the people the film lays the blame on and smash the bejeebus out of them for their greed and gluttony. To a degree, the film seems to avoid a lot of finger-pointing at the US Government, although it never lets them off really, it just keeps the blowtorch on the people at Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and their ilk. That blowtorch is a powerful one indeed, as the level of research and information on display here is incredible; the facts don’t lie, as several of the interview subjects soon found out when confronted with an inescapable truth to which there were complicit in avoiding. Ferguson doesn’t stoop to hysterics or overly theatrical style, with the film being a steady, slowly building gut-churning venture into one of the most impossibly damaging catastrophe’s our modern world has ever faced. Ferguson’s quiet style, mirrored by Matt Damon’s almost monotonous narration, serves to counterpoint the sheer audacity and lunacy the Guys At The Top had to even engage in the kind of immoral, unethical behavior they did – even called to account by any number of congressional hearings, nobody seemed to really give a crap beyond saving their own necks, and that’s the part that makes me furious.
I’m under no illusions that the top 1% of the population still controls 90% of the money, and in a capitalist society such as ours (Australia has more rigorous financial regulation, and a less idiotic political system than the US – I mean, there’s no way the “debt ceiling” thing would have ever become a thing here!) I doubt that will ever really change, as much as the protests and lip-service declarations by governments across the globe might achieve, there’s little hope due to the way our society functions. Inside Job should be a shameful, regretful experience for all involved, yet even in the face of global ruin, these dickheads still function in the same industry they nearly helped to collapse! It beggars belief, and the sheer incompetency of any Government to reign in this excessive risk taking borders on criminal. Inside Job might not be the most fun documentary you’ll ever see, but as a shock-and-awe experience in what it takes to destroy the hopes and dreams of millions of people around the world, all for an extra percentage point on your stock price, it is most definitely an eye opener. Inside Job deserved its Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It deserved more of an audience, if only to remind ourselves that this kind of thing is avoidable, and the people who caused it should be made to pay for it.