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Review: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Directed by: Alex Gibney

Premise: Documentary narrating the rise and fall of Enron and the culture of greed within the company that lead to its collapse.

What Works: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room has a great narrative that is woven together through interviews and narration. It is dramatic but does not pull punches with major doses of pathos. Instead, the film allows Enron’s key figures to hang themselves with their own audacity by juxtaposing facts with conflicting statements. The picture gets into an appropriate level of detail and manages to cover the pertinent information and delve into a deep level of analysis while not getting bogged down in accounting details. One of the most interesting things that the film does is to play out Enron’s fall against a broader cultural background of deregulation and out of control capitalism.

What Doesn’t: The film’s lack of pathos appeal is refreshing but it would have helped the film to have more reactions from the rank and file employees of Enron who lost everything. Also, the film does not acknowledge that Enron had made contributions to both the Republican and Democratic parties.

DVD extras: Commentary track, deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, “Where are they now?” feature, gallery of Enron cartoons, Fortune magazine articles, index of website with current information.

Bottom Line: Among the surge of political and partisan documentaries that have been released in the last few years, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is among the best, in some ways eclipsing Fahrenheit 9/11 because it reaches beyond the current events to underlying issues of human greed.

Episode: #88 (March 12, 2006)