Docurama // 2010 // 82 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // April 25th, 2012
What happens when the rich get richer?
Regardless of political affiliation, it is impossible to deny that the economic collapse of Wall Street in 2008 was one of the worst financial disasters America has seen in its history. Where the blame should be placed is less important at this point than understanding why it happened so we can take steps to keep it from happening like that again. Director David Sington (In the Shadow of the Moon), in his documentary The Flaw, attempts to explain all of this in under ninety minutes. While a lot more depth is necessary for anywhere close to a full understanding of the collapse, The Flaw does a decent job of clarifying some of the bigger issues at play.
As much as possible, Sington uses layman's terms to make his points. It's an effective strategy because economic theory is a lot more abstract than people give it credit for. Through talking heads, plenty of charts, and some awesome archival pro-capitalism cartoons, he draws the fairly obvious parallel between 2008 and what happened in 1929.
Starting from that point, he argues cogently that economic instability results directly from the disparity of wealth between rich and poor. Not surprisingly, the percentages separating the two time periods are slim, indeed. As the rich gain wealth, they spend more time investing than spending and, when the poor lose it, they can't spend anything at all. All this leads to spikes in unemployment and even less money in circulation, which are linked decisively with both market collapses.
That's an oversimplification, of course, and Sington does a much better job than I can to make sense of it. He takes the audience deep enough to make them feel they've gotten something out of it, while keeping it broad and not getting mired in minutiae. The animation is entertaining and breaks up the sometimes technical talk with what basically amounts to propaganda. The Flaw isn't anti-capitalism or really that political at all; it does try to give a balanced view of the issue, though, staying true to his title and pointing out the essential flaws with unrestricted capitalism, which is why we're in the position were in right now.
The Flaw comes in a solid, if uneventful edition from Docurama Films. The new interviews are all crisp and clear and the older footage, especially the animation, look a little rougher, but never too bad. The sound is a perfectly fine stereo mix, but there's little to note about it. A near hour-long interview with Sington stands as the only extra, but it's worth hearing him discuss the background of the project and his intentions behind it.
The Flaw could have done more in the way of the solutions to the problem but, as it stands, it's a strong documentary that does a good job of explaining what happened and why. As a primer or refresher course on the Wall Street collapse, The Flaw is definitely recommended.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site