The Outsider review – doc about shipping magnate needs bailing out | Documentary films

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A rather parochial documentary about a flamboyant Taiwanese shipping magnate called Nobu Su. He got very rich supplying building materials during the Chinese construction boom, lost a great deal of his staggering wealth after the banking crash of 2008, and now alleges he was tricked by his bankers, who supposedly conspired to truncate his credit line and misuse his assets to get government bailouts and to help his more conventionally established competitors.

So why is Su’s story interesting to the rest of us? Other than as a superrich-lifestyle snapshot? Exasperatingly, the film can never quite decide if Su’s conspiracy theories are justified, and therefore offer a valuable insight into gangster capitalism, or if they are not justified, and so give us merely a portrait of a self-pitying ex-mogul blaming other people for his business failures. The whole business cost him his marriage, but his ex-wife is not interviewed. The film never comments on that omission, but does come weirdly to life when Su crashes his estranged daughter’s graduation ceremony and she and her sister are visibly angry with him for abandoning them.

But the documentary never quite succeeds in persuading a general audience that this is anything other than a story of a wealthy guy who is now less wealthy than he was, and less wealthy than he intensely feels he should be. The film is happy to be charmed by Su’s undoubtedly engaging and ebullient personality, but doesn’t really dig deeper.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Outsider review – doc about shipping magnate needs bailing out | Documentary films

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