A biting look at how capitalism takes advantage of any tragedy and how sometimes there are shattering consequences to such vulture attitudes. Emmanuel Tenenbaums Free Fall goes as you would expect, but the emotional punch still works.
Tom is a young trader in a London bank, whose recent performance has put his job on the line. So when the first plane hits the World Trade Centre on the morning of September 11th 2001, Tom, convinced that it’s a terrorist attack and not an accident, jumps into the biggest trade of his life.
Interestingly with such a story like we have in Free Fall, we would usually root for our protagonist in Tom, an inexperienced trader who usually performs well with the gentle guidance of his mentor Freddie. But instead, we find him struggling in Freddie’s absence, and his daily losses are starting to count up for the team. This is a character you would happily watch and hope that he can turn the corner in his career; it just so happens that the vital day that it happens on is one of the most horrific to happen in Western civilisation for many decades.
So, as Tom sees an opportunity and that killer trader mindset kicks in, we see the entire film turn. He becomes that bit more ruthless, hanging up on people mid-sentence as he hurries to get his pitch across; he becomes the stereotypical trader. You begin to feel less for him as you realise, above all else, despite thinking what has happened to the World Trade Centre was more than just an accident, he is willing to do something to make him, his colleagues and company some money. But, most of all, he makes this decision because he wants to save his job. The people who have died or will die from the tragedy is lost to him now; he has become one of them.
Or maybe he was always one of them but just had not grown that sharp edge to survive in that cutthroat world. Regardless of the number inevitably turning in his favour, he is left to sit and cherish his moment in the sun, and as such, your feelings towards him have more than sour. By the audience knowing what happened and what was going to happen with those towers, our stomachs drop. We had this hope for him evaporate in seconds, and while we knew companies took advantage of the attacks to make a profit, to see it and see it celebrated angers you.
That is the entire point of Free Fall; it seems; we are built up to be left angry and resentful, we want their moment in the sun to be wiped out, something bad to happen to their profits or their mindset and to that Tenenbaum does some great work with his film. We resent everyone on that floor, and by showing us in a concise and excellent 14 minutes how these people work, Tenenbaum shows us the moral failures of some and how some of humanity is only after one thing.
Free Fall is an uncomfortable watch that shows us the power of capitalism and just how much the World Trade Centre attacks affected the world in an economic sense while reminding us of the human loss in the tragedy.
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