The Flaw

"Very Good"

The Flaw Review


The title of this America-centric documentary refers to the flawed belief that markets can increase in value indefinitely. Besides violating the laws of nature, this is so clearly fiction that we hardly need a movie to tell us. Even so, it's a lucid, gripping doc.

At a Congressional financial hearing, Alan Greenspan admitted that there was a defect in his theory that markets would function better if unregulated, because people turned out to be untrustworthy. And also because the hypothesis that the market determines fair value has actually resulted in unfair competition. The film traces various bubbles, including the build-up to the crash of 1929, the stock market in the 90s and the events of 2007, noting that property booms (like in the 20s and 00s) are far more dangerous, because they involve so much debt.

It also explores why the 50s is seen as America's golden decade, when people had money to make their lives better. This was a time when then gap between the rich and poor was at its smallest, so everyone was prospering. By contrast, the 2000s were like the 20s, with much greater income inequality, higher debt and prosperity limited to bankers. Average people had to borrow money for bigger houses to keep up with the wealthy and have better schools for their kids. So money was transferred from people who couldn't afford it to people who couldn't spend it.

The film is nicely shot and edited, with a snappy score and witty vintage cartoon clips. Besides being amusing, the cartoons are hugely informative, as are graphics that put the situation into clear context. Interviewees - bankers, experts, developers, estate agents - are cogent and engaging, holding our interest by making everything relevant.

Seeing just how banks used the system to manipulate and deliberately rob and ruin average people is fascinating (and horrifying), although director Sington gets bogged down in the details. In the end, the most telling point is that the standard of living over the past 30 years has decreased for everyone except those at the very top. So if capitalism is only creating wealth for very few people, it's no longer working.



The Flaw

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 78 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd June 2011

Distributed by: New Video Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: David Sington

Producer: Stephen Lambert, Christopher Hird, Luke Johnson

Starring: Robert Shiller as Professor of Economics, Yale University, Robert Frank as Professor of Economics, Cornell University, Joseph Stiglitz as Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics, Columbia University, Dan Ariely as Professor of Behavioural Economics, Duke University

Also starring:

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