Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Save up to 70%
Empire
Film Studies 101
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Peter Coyote
Jeff Skilling
Kevin Lay.
Directors
Alex Gibney.
Screenwriters
Alex Gibney.
Running Time
109 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Last Knights
2 Star Empire Rating
Child 44
2 Star Empire Rating
Sixteen
3 Star Empire Rating
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream Alliance
3 Star Empire Rating
Last Five Years, The
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
Sweet Smell of Success
5 Star Empire Rating

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
The best documentary nominated missed out on the Oscar this year...


submit to reddit


Plot
The collapse of the Enron corporation in 2001 — following a series of accounting irregularities and apparent corruption — sent shockwaves through the US. With Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind’s book of the same name as a starting point, Gibney untangles what went wrong.


Review
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room

Strippers. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Extreme sports. This is not your average business documentary. But then, Enron wasn’t your average business. The fall of the American energy giant in 2001 was not just a devastating blow for the thousands of workers and retirees who lost their jobs and pensions, but a slap in the face for the American dream.

In 2000, Enron was worth $70 billion, and chairman Ken Lay was being talked up for a senior post in the Bush administration. Within 18 months, the money was gone and the company in bankruptcy, as the house of cards tumbled down and the world learned that Enron’s rosy accounts were based on money that had never existed and grand schemes that cost billions. What’s more, this sleight of hand had been endorsed by virtually all of Wall Street’s biggest banks and accounting giant Arthur Anderson, making all of them complicit in history’s biggest corporate scandal.

Gibney’s film deserves enormous credit for making these financial shenanigans comprehensible — mark-to-market accounting, insider trading and trading in energy futures are all explained in simple terms. What’s even more impressive is that these tactics become positively fascinating, bringing us back time and again to the moral of the story — it’s not about numbers, it’s about people.

Impressively, the Enron executives are fully-rounded characters in this story, despite the fact that most did not participate, on legal advice. Ken Lay is the charismatic chairman and political player; Jeff Skilling the visionary CEO and compulsive risk-taker; Andrew Fastow the menacing chief financial officer who went furthest across the line into illegality. Not to mention Lou Pai, the former head of the EES division, who cashed out with $250 million after “divorcing his wife so he could marry his stripper girlfriend who was carrying his child”. You couldn’t make it up.

Despite the talking heads and grainy blow-ups of TV footage, the film boasts some rather gorgeous cinematography and moves briskly, with the interviews masterfully edited. Catchy tunes and artfully chosen stock footage also keep the pace swift. But for all the high production values, you’ll leave with the depressing knowledge that the executives got away with millions and left their employees high and dry, and that it could all happen again.


Verdict
A case study in pride before a fall, the film’s narrow focus allows it to expose the wider costs of corporate greed and the dark side of the American dream far more effectively than the wider-ranging likes of The Corporation or Fahrenheit 9/11.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara


Related Reviews
Sounds
ENRON: The Smartest Guys In The Room
 

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
Empire Star Rating

A fantastic documentary which attempts to explain a complicated issue with simplicity and humour ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by willchadwick at 10:17, 26 February 2011 | Report This Post


A great documentary that makes you think as much as it makes you feel. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by taz_e at 16:07, 11 June 2006 | Report This Post


Superb documentary. Riveting, jaw dropping drama from start to finish. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robford50 at 20:51, 01 May 2006 | Report This Post


RE: ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM

Another great documentary. Along with the superior Fightually good  Mancompletes the triumverate of fantastic, intelligent, expertly crafted documentarys for this year. ... More

Posted by furrybastard at 18:06, 24 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM

Funny, i bought this over the weekend and i watched it last night.....GREED...thats all its about. People who make 300 million a year and it is not enough for them!!!   It is fucking absolutely disgusting..excuse my language!. You have these executives who cash in big time and dont give a crap about the little guy.         This documentary walks us through the collapse of one of the largest companies in the world worth billions and billions because ... More

Posted by wgamador at 17:39, 24 April 2006 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The 15 Most Controversial Alternate Endings
How some of your favourite films could have finished...

80 Of The Best Movie Star Adverts
From Sly Stallone selling bread to Hugh Jackman dancing for Ice Tea

Showrunner Matthew Weiner Reveals 7 Mad Men Secrets
The truth about The Beatles and that lawnmower

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Breakdown
Everything you need to know about the second teaser

Podcast #157: Alan Rickman
From A Little Chaos to Die Hard and back again

From Hell! 22 Stalker Psychodramas
From fatal attractions to single white females

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon On The Town That Dreaded Sundown
The American Horror Story director on his cult slasher remake

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Subscribe now and save up to 70%

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe now and save up to 70%
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)