(I) (2012)

Critic Reviews



Based on 11 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Payback is nothing if not brave. It's a documentary attempt to give concrete shape to an abstract discussion, using the medium of film to transplant a nuanced thesis - on the concept of debt - from its natural home on the printed page.
This documentary on the many forms of human debt, though often frustratingly broad, offers a path to balancing civilization's ledger with a hard-nosed brand of altruism.
Debt is bad, we can all agree, as is its conceptual cousin, greed. It would have been intellectually bracing, though, to have a Gordon Gekko equivalent on hand to argue otherwise.
While the movie occasionally stretches too far to maintain thematic coherence, its momentum is sustained by the urgency of its case studies, as well as the sense of outrage at the injustices perpetuated at the behest of powerful monetary interests and its striking imagery.
Payback is a rarefied conceptual documentary that will appeal to a limited but highly appreciative audience.
Ultimately, this intriguing but scattershot movie turns on the incompatibility of two worldviews - the corporate-financial vs. the environmental-spiritual.
The New York Times
You can't help feeling that the movie owed its subject - and its audience - a bit more.
Village Voice
Cinematic globe-trotting doesn't necessarily trump reading a good book, it turns out; then again, more movies should be burdened with the flaw of being too intellectually curious.
All are subjects worthy of discussion, but tackling them in one film disrupts the movie's momentum and shortchanges viewers. Baichwal could have devoted a single film to just BP's disgraceful behavior.
Aesthetically, it's desultory. Talking-heads rants and ruminations are further stultified by the amateurish aesthetics. Visually, zooms, pans and filler moments enervate the message. Most annoying, the dour music grates throughout; its hollow grinding, we'd guess, is an attempt to impart profundity.

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