Review: Inside Job

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in Film

With a name like Inside Job, the tone of the film really shouldn’t shock me. Yet I’m still caught off guard when, in the middle of an interview, the voice behind the camera interrupts the Columbia economics professor with “You’ve got to be joking me!”

I, the viewer, already know this professor is covering his tracks. I know he’s a Wall Street villain. I know he is, in part, responsible for the collapse of the American economy. The filmmakers spent the previous 90 minutes of the film showing me all this. They don’t need act so unprofessional in interviews.

It happens many times throughout the film. The subjects — Wall Streeters, members of the Bush administration and other presumed wrong-doers — grow increasingly angry with the interruptions until they explode and demand the camera be turned off. I eventually side with the “villains,” because at least make an initial attempt to follow conversational etiquette.

There are obvious cuts and edits in the middle of interviews, and I have to wonder why the director even bothered sitting these people down for a chat if the only intention was to cut them off before letting them get a word in. I’d rather see a Jon Stewart-esque heckling or a grainy shot of some dodgy trenchcoat-wearing character carrying a briefcase, as seen so many times on 20/20. These programs at least know better than to give the opposing team a chance at bat, only to steal the ball mid-pitch and declare the game over.

Inside Job goes into great depth explaining numbers and figures — the millions, even billions made by a few at the expense of many. We see quite a few of the scoundrels who stole, but very few of those who were stolen from. There are all of three interviews with the victimized — a man living in a tent, a woman with an outrageous house payment, and a factory worker in China. I wish there had been more. That may sound sadistic, but really, it would have been nice to put more of a face (or faces) on the tragedy of the financial crisis.

And finally, nothing is more annoying than a sermon at the end of a movie. After Food Inc. told me to write my senator, I went out and bought a Big Mac instead — and some high-fructose corn syrup, because no moving picture has a say in my actions. If a film was made with any skill at all, it shouldn’t need a sappy conclusion to sum up the previous two hours. So when Inside Job tells me things need to change and that I should do something about it, it insults my intelligence and I decide to write a negative review instead of a positive one.

Despite its flaws, however, Inside Job is incredibly informative. I’ve never fully understood what it was that caused the 2008 crisis. The film broke the economic collapse into simple terms — and though I’m still not entirely sure what a derivative is, at least I now know how it was abused. And I know who to blame.

That’s the point, I guess. If considered art, or even a documentary, Inside Job fails on many counts. But as an educational resource for those less economically minded — and the angry Americans wanting to point fingers — Inside Job makes for an impressive exposé.

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