Inside Job -- Film Review

Representational Pictures/Sony Pictures Classics
Powerful takedown of the financial services industry and Wall Street greed.

CANNES -- The global financial meltdown of 2008 resulted in millions of people losing jobs and homes. It had something to do with brokerage firms, banks, lending companies.

That's about all most of us know and comprehends, but this Sony Pictures Classics release documents the criminal fraud and greed of the financial services industry. Most impressively, it makes it understandable to those of us who don't know much at all about economics.

"Inside Job" presents a stunning array of interviews with a broad range of participants and commentators: hedge fund managers, business-school faculty, Justice Department officials, Federal Reserve chairmen, Congressmen and even a Wall Street "Madam." However, "Inside Job" is no talking-heads drone. It's a lively, droll and acidic shakedown of the insiders who perpetrated this crisis.

Filmmaker Charles Ferguson exposes a level of greed that would make even Gordon Gekko cringe as such entities as Goldman Sachs actually made money by selling their clients worthless financial products and then betting against them.

Most pointedly, Inside Job clearly illuminates the collusion between governmental agencies, the giant financial service companies and the hordes of insiders who slopped at both sides of the trough. In short, "Inside Job" exposes the conflicts of interest between brokerage, regulation and government.

Further, Inside Job also maps the conflict-of-interest rampant throughout top business schools, such as Harvard and Columbia, whose professors garner huge consulting fees by the very firms perpetrating the de-regulation mantra.

Rooting the crisis in the move toward de-regulation begun during the Reagan administration and now continuing under Obama, Inside Job illuminates how the Wall Street culprits who caused this crisis have moved through to the other side of the fence. Such financial services honchos/culprits as Bush appointee Hank Paulson and Obama-men Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers have held or now hold high presidential advisory posts.

As a farmer might say, "It was the foxes getting in the hen house," referring to the financial services execs/crooks who have crossed over into high regulatory capacities.

Narrated by Matt Damon and illuminated by the film's revealing interview questions, Inside Job deserves, in stock terms, a triple-A rating.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Special Screenings
Sales: Sony Pictures Classics
Production companies: Representational Pictures in association with Screen Pass Pictures
Cast: Matt Damon (narrator)
Director: Charles Ferguson
Producer: Audrey Marrs
Directors of photography: Kalyanee Mam, Svetlana Cvetko
Editors: Chad Beck, Adam Bolt. Music: Alex Heffes
No rating, 110 minutes