Inside Job

Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job is the kind of film that gets under your skin and stays with you. That’s not something I normally get out of documentaries (though 2009’s The Cove certainly stayed with me for quite some time), but this one, a searing expose on the current financial crisis freaked me out. It explains in no uncertain terms that the United States has been on the road to this collapse for a LONG time, and those in power—both of the public and private sectors—knew about the situation and actively sought to make it worse for their own short-term gains. The craziest thing about Ferguson’s thesis is that no one ever seemed to be looking out for the average man or woman’s well being. From Reagan to Clinton, Bush to Obama, Ferguson lays this mess at everyone’s feet and says, “Your move.”

There’s no point getting into the plot of the film, as anyone with a cursory knowledge of current events knows about the state of the economy. Needless to say, Ferguson’s film isn’t optimistic. He claims that deregulation and the culture of greed in Washington and on Wall Street have led us down a road to oblivion and no one has the desire or guts to turn us around. There’s a lot more to it than that, as you’ll see if you seek this one out, but I’ll leave all that to Matt Damon’s voiceover to explain.

As far as his cinematic approach, Ferguson, for the most part, decides to go “no frills” on this, which I thought was a wise move. A film this important—and make no mistake, this is probably the most important film of the year—is best when you let the facts speak for themselves, which is precisely what the filmmaker does. They might not be facts that we want to hear, but they are things we all should know.

Another astounding aspect to this film is the caliber of the interviews Ferguson conducts. Not only was he able to sit down with very knowledgeable people, he also somehow convinced a few culpable individuals to speak with him. Many of them likely regretted doing so afterward, as Ferguson just rips them all new ones. His questions are very pointed and he has evidence on hand to back up all his claims. I’m thankful he didn’t pull any punches, as we really got to see these creeps squirm in the million-dollar suits.

Between Waiting for “Superman”, Catfish, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, and Exit Through the Gift Shop, I’ve seen some real high-quality non-fiction this year. Inside Job is another entry to the club (it’s also the one I expect to take him the Oscar next year). It’s a hard film to love because it does tackle a subject so, frankly, depressing, but it’s an easy one to admire for its director’s dedication to finding answers and holding guilty individuals accountable.

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