It’s difficult to exaggerate the impact of the global financial meltdown of 2008, a tsunami that, if we were lucky, a lot of us felt as a pinch or a slap. The additional wallop that Charles Ferguson’s revelatory new documentary Inside Job packs comes from what it augurs for the future, and how it reveals the collapse to be both at once a crime of greed and an entirely systemic (if sadly preventable) failure, a de-pantsing of American capitalism to the rest of the world.
The word “empathy” was derided in some quarters of political discourse when President Obama mentioned it in 2009 in the context of a necessary ingredient of a Supreme Court justice, but clearly there isn’t that sort of honest feeling for constituents and the public at large in so many of those charged with protecting the interests of average Americans. Narrated by Matt Damon and told in breathtakingly concise, calmly reasoned strokes, the ire-evoking Inside
Job makes this abundantly clear. In his follow-up to No End in Sight, Ferguson rivetingly connects the dots on the shadowy financial derivatives world and a subprime lending market that swelled to over $600 billion, over one-fifth of all lending in 2006. It all adds up to a corporate-friendly dance party on the backs of retirement fund pensioners and others who can least afford it. The thing that’s most irritating, however, is the sort of shock, befuddlement and indignation at the exceedingly reasonable, base-level questions Ferguson puts to various voices of the status quo in the film. Clearly, their plan is just to dance until the music stops. For more information on the film, click here. (Sony Pictures Classics, PG-13, 105 minutes)