There are few tougher propositions in the film world than the feature-length documentary. To stand out, and, seemingly, to impress the Academy, documentaries need to be helped by the cult of personality (Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth), high production values (March Of The Penguins) or a crowd-pleasing tone (Man On Wire, The Cove). Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, a compelling account of the recent global financial crisis, is obviously aiming high, ticking off each quality to almost fatal effect.
A thrilling opening, using the economic bubble of Iceland as a starting point, asserts itself through fast-paced editing, a score that takes cues from Hans Zimmer, and cinematography that, to be honest, has no place in this tale of boardrooms, bankers and bailouts.
As the opening credits roll, we're hit by the one-two punch of comfort food licensed music choices (Peter Gabriel's Big Time) and sumptuous aerial shots of New York City, London, Shanghai, and other international business centres. Such slickness, plus the film's backing by Sony Pictures Classics, gives Inside Job an immediate air of professionalism, one that is, thankfully, mirrored in Ferguson's approach as a documentarian.
While not mincing words or failing to lay blame where it is due, the film safely sidesteps the cheap demagoguery of Moore, with the filmmaker's voice taking a backseat to compelling infographics, eloquent talking heads, and the soothing, familiar voice of Matt Damon.
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