Burdened with an ever-expanding government and military, increased international competition, massively over-extended entitlement programs and debts to foreign countries that are impossible to honour, America must end its spendthrift ways or face an economic disaster of epic proportions. Authorities among the highest levels of global power, boldly examine the staggering growth of US national debt, its ramifications and global repercussions. The ultimate power of I.O.U.S.A. is that the film moves beyond doomsday rhetoric to proffer potential financial scenarios and propose solutions. Pointedly topical and consummately non-partisan, I.O.U.S.A. seriously drives home its message.

I.O.U.S.A. offers a few inconvenient truths about how America is borrowing itself into oblivion.

With a middling box office take just shy of US$700,000, Patrick Creadon’s crucial and achingly-engaging documentary could’ve used the big, fat marketing clout that the Michael Moore brand brings to the doco genre.

While Moore’s making money editorialising the current state of gun control, political buffonery and health costs – stuff that’s already happened – I.O.U.S.A. documents the future. If more people had watched this film, they might still have their houses.

Director Creadon is an exceptionally talented factual filmmaker. His last film, Wordplay – a charming, insightful look at those of us enthralled by the intoxicating grasp of the crossword puzzle – highlighted a documentarian with an eye for important, minor details and a storyteller who instinctively finds the humanistic core of his subject. In I.O.U.S.A., that heartbeat belongs to two men – U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and economic strategist and reformer Robert Bixby. They travel the countryside engaging audiences with detailed warnings of the impending financial cataclysm.

Initially, Creadon paints them as white-collar idealists (Walker is a long-term government employee, despite clashes with policy makers dating back a decade) and borderline eccentrics (Bixby still drinks TaB because it kept him thin in college).

But their foreboding financial predictions, filmed for this doco in early 2008, not only stack up but prove to be prescient and precise.

The most immense financial and political structure in the Western world is based on an unsustainable credit glut – borrowed funds from Eastern commercial powers now threaten to dismantle the economy of the world’s wealthiest society. The arrogance borne of its belief in its own status as world leader will be the downfall of the American empire.

Creadon’s film doesn’t demand of its audience a change in political views, like those of bully-boy Michael Moore. Creadon points the finger at every US government of the last 60 years; the film’s opening credit sequence – in which key presidential speeches dating back to the 1940’s, are shown to be interchangeable with regard to U.S. financial policy – is chillingly funny.

Heed I.O.U.S.A.’s message – apparently, there is a global financial crisis coming. You heard it here first...


1 hour 25 min
Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11