Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (2005)

(On DVD, February 2006) The Satirical journal The Onion once ran a story titled “Americans Would Be Outraged If They Understood Enron Collapse”. Well this it it, the film that ties everything together and does its best to enrage you. Embezzlement, machismo, political connections, lack of auditing, amoral executives, deliberate suffering, culture of excess, refusal to admit responsibility: everything wrong about American capitalism seems to be on display here. Best of all, it makes sense of a complicated scheme, tracking Enron’s rise and fall in a limpid fashion. As financial vulgarization, it’s top-notch, with both the script and the direction keeping things moving along at a fast clip. But beyond a simple expose of criminal numbers, the film also shows the real consequences for some ordinary people whose pensions were essentially wiped out by the Enron collapse. Make sure you don’t have any Enron business literature left lying around, otherwise you will find yourself burning it in sheer hopping anger. 2005 was another excellent year for feature-length documentaries, and this is only one of the flagship titles.

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