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film review

Robert Reich in Inequality for All

If you're thirsty for economic data that show how much the income gap in the United States has grown over the past 35 years, come drink from the firehose that is Inequality for All, a well-intentioned if incomplete doc about Robert Reich, the labour secretary during former U.S. president Bill Clinton's first term, who has spent decades trying to do something about inequality in America.

Director Jacob Kornbluth takes the familiar cable-TV talking points – the ones about the richest 400 Americans possessing wealth equal to that of their poorest 150 million countrymen, about flatlining average wages, about the tiny income-tax bills of multimillionaires – and adds quiet emotional heft by spending time with some middle-class folk falling behind.

Filmed in his lecture hall at Berkeley, and out in the country meeting roadkill of the globalized economy, Reich is a natural teacher of complex concepts: The film doesn't feel like homework. Still, while its description of the problem is convincing, you wish it could offer more of a prescription. But maybe that's not the film's fault, especially in the frozen democracy of America. As Reich says – spoiler alert – "There is no magic bullet."