Every now and then the BBC really prove their worth. No truer than last night's BBC2 film drama Freefall.
It's a story that will have resonated with the British public, tackling the credit crunch and the highs of the boom where mortgage lending was offered to pretty much anyone, and the inevitable lows of the bust when their repayments were missed.
Written by BAFTA award-winning Dominic Savage with a brilliant all-star cast improvising through each scene, we delve into the uncomfortable world of finance. The drama kicks off in the heady days of 2007 where lending was readily available. Dave Matthews (played by Dominic Cooper pictured) is a hot-shot broker armed with a fatal discounted mortgage which he sells to the gullible. Pushing all morals aside, he's well aware they can't afford them, but there's money to be made and he'll stop at nothing.
Equally without a conscience, we explore City banker Aidan Gillen's addiction to closing the deals on a mammoth scale. Gus's relationship breakdown with his daughter and girlfriend of sorts Anna (Rosamund Pike) make us believe his sole drive in life is to make as much money as possible, losing the ability to care and love.
He leads a simple life and is happy with his lot, but that soon changes when he hooks up with old school pal Dave who encourages him to have greater aspirations.
At the bottom of the chain, we follow Jim (Joseph Mawle) and his family living a rented council flat. He leads a simple life and is happy with his lot, but that soon changes when he hooks up with old school pal Dave who encourages him to have greater aspirations. Jim ultimately succumbs and although his wife Mandy (Anna Maxwell Martin) has her doubts, they sign up for one of Dave's dodgy mortgages. Of course, he fails to tell them that after the year's fixed rate, the repayments will rocket for the remaining two year term.
One year later, Jim opens the letter from his building society with news of the increase. It's a devastating revelation for the security guard who has to take on extra shifts and is eventually sacked for falling asleep on the job. Repayments mount up and in the end they're back where they started, a lesson that almost destroys them.
It's not much better for Gus in the City, who loses billions in the downturn. It's not long before things spiral out of control. “This is payback time,” he says predicting the outcome. Doing the deals defined who he was, what was left for him?
Freefall is a gritty and real drama that exposes the greedy and selfish.
Yet it's ex-broker Dave who seems to readjust well to his new life. Although he has to sell his big house in the suburbs, he downscales to a stylish apartment, acquires a new girlfriend and starts a new job selling solar power, seemingly indicating that a top salesperson will always ‘get by'.
Freefall is a gritty and real drama that exposes the greedy and selfish. The ‘fly on the wall' filming style is effective and Savage manages to bring out some skilful performances, in particular from Mawle and Maxwell Martin's broke husband and wife. At times though the dialogue is overplayed and would have perhaps benefited by a touch of subtlety here and there. Nevertheless, Freefall is a compelling view of the devastating impact on those at each end of the scale of capitalism.
– By Phil Matthews