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Margaret Atwood's visionary work Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth is the basis for this riveting and poetic documentary on "debt" in its various forms-societal, personal, environmental, spiritual, criminal, and of course, economic. Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal strikingly interweaves these (sometimes surprising) debtor/creditor relationships: two families in a years-long Albanian blood feud; the BP oil spill vs. the Earth; mistreated Florida tomato farm workers and their bosses; imprisoned media mogul Conrad Black and the U.S. justice system. With stunning cinematography… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"There's a splendid audacity in Baichwal trying to bring to the screen something as idea-driven as Atwood's book."
‑ Mark Feeney, Boston Globe
"Adapting non-fiction to cinema can be tricky even for a documentarian, but Jennifer Baichwal makes a game effort at turning Margaret Atwood's book-length essay Payback: Debt And The Shadow Side Of Wealth into a movie."
‑ Noel Murray, AV Club
"An earnest and edifying documentary on the philosophical and ethical ramifications of debt as something owed."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"This doc on the many forms of human debt, though often frustratingly broad, offers a path to balancing civilization's ledger with a hard-nosed brand of altruism."
‑ Bill Weber, Slant Magazine
"Baichwal could have devoted a single film to just BP's disgraceful behavior."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"Despite trying to fit both the ancient Albanian Kanun legal code and the fate of the environment on the same procrustean bed, Baichwal's free-flowing essay film stands as a thoughtful and compelling meditation on global interconnectivity..."
‑ Andrew Schenker, Time Out New York
"Makes similar points as several other docs, but in a more labored and tedious way."
‑ Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
"Ultimately, this intriguing but scattershot movie turns on the incompatibility of two worldviews - the corporate-financial vs. the environmental-spiritual."
‑ Mark Jenkins, NPR
"You can't help feeling that the movie owed its subject - and its audience - a bit more."
‑ A.O. Scott, New York Times
"Three real-life horror stories are linked by the theme of debt in this informative but sometimes wandering doc."
‑ David Noh, Film Journal International
More reviews for Payback on Rotten Tomatoes