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In The Debt, a taut, scenic drama about the social upshot of high finance, Stephen Dorff is a carpetbagging American financier preying on Peruvians for their long-held government bonds.

2 out of 4 stars

Title
The Debt
Written by
Barney Elliott
Directed by
Barney Elliott
Starring
Stephen Dorff, David Strathairn, Brooke Langton
Genre
Drama
Classification
14A
Country
USA/Spain/Peru
Language
English
Year
2015

In The Debt, a taut, scenic drama about the social upshot of high finance, Stephen Dorff is a carpetbagging American financier preying on Peruvians for their long-held government bonds. He pays pennies on the dollar. The film, well-meaning but contrived, does the same. The intersecting plots from first-time writer-director Barney Elliott burn slow: A mountain farmer refuses to sell his land; a nurse in Lima struggles to care for her ailing mother; and a money deal with roots that stretch back to Peru's agrarian land reforms in 1969 is reaching a fast-approaching deadline. Laudable for its commentary on hedge-fund greed and a government unable to take care of its people, the well-acted film loses points for story conveniences that rob the final scenes of the emotional weight otherwise earned. A promise made is a balance owing, and The Debt fails to pay off.

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