Saturday, 29 January 2011
SUNDANCE 2011 - The Flaw
By Alan Bacchus
The Flaw has the misfortune of telling the same story as Inside Job, one of the best films of last year, and then the only movie yet to have made clear the cause and effect of the financial collapse of 2008.
But the story of the housing market bubble and the collapse of the American financial markets is huge, so pervasive there’s more than enough room for two films. And certainly two films by two great documentary filmmakers, in this case UK director David Sington who directed the fabulous In the Shadow of the Moon.
While Sington's film doesn't quite match the dramatic intensity of Inside Job, The Flaw achieves in it's own way another chilling and frustrating critique of the factors which left so many ordinary citizens in financial peril.
The Flaw admirably goes back to chart the course of financial policy from the 1920's to today, making startling connections in economic variables across the period and putting all this mess into the context of history. Sington finds the absolute right people to interview. You can’t get more credible than economists, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Shiller, and Robert Frank. Sington also makes great use of Andrew Luan, a former Mortgage trader who now operates a NYC Wall Street tour for tourists. Same with Ed Andrews, a financial columnist of the New York Times, who offers a middle class example of someone affected by the disaster.
Visually, Sington makes use of a goldmine of 1950’s public service animated shorts, which provides a humorous counterpoint to the seriousness in the present. Unfortunately the overuse of these clips runs dry, along with the feeling that these gags have been played out many times over by Michael Moore. Same with the over reliance on statistics and graphs, often repeating the same information.
But the clarity and simplicity of the math which Sington conveys helps shed even more light to the atrocious irresponsibility of policy makers in the United States, erasing almost a century of economic stability and relative prosperity. While The Flaw stands in the shadow of Inside Job, it's a worthy addition to the public discourse on this subject.