In many ways Dominic Savage’s engrossing drama does a better job of explaining the roots of the global financial crisis than half a dozen documentaries.
Opening in the lush days of 2007, his story slices through the credit pyramid at three levels. Perched on top of this delicately teetering money mountain is successful, blinkered City banker Gus (Aidan Gillen) who sells on packages of debt for vast profits. If you can’t understand a single word of how this is supposed to work, you won’t be the only one.
At the bottom are the unprepared families who’ve signed up for discounted deals and are suddenly faced with a mortgage they can no longer pay.
And in the middle of it all is Dave, a super mortgage salesman played with deceptively winning charm by Mamma Mia! heart-throb Dominic Cooper. When he bumps into an old school-friend Jim (Joseph Mawle) who’s still renting a council flat in the street where he grew up, Dave practically sees it as his duty to persuade Jim to take advantage of all the easy credit sloshing about to better himself.
You could say that all three men are driven by greed and it’s just the scale of it that varies.
A seriously heavy-weight cast includes Anna Maxwell Martin, Rosamund Pike and Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding as Dave’s beautician girlfriend.
A largely improvised script results in superbly natural performances all round but some of the best performances aren’t from actors – but from “real” people dotted into the action. So if the estate agents, mortgage company staff and even the potential customers Dave is working his oily magic on seem terribly convincing, that’s because they’re not actually acting at all.