Based on the book by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, ‘Freakonomics’ is a collection of four mini-documentaries (each with a different director), loosely tied together by discussions between Levitt and Dubner. The subject matter covered by each director is diverse, and perhaps for this reason ‘Freakonomics’ doesn’t so much provide a cohesive film experience, rather it presents a series of fascinating short films … or at least that’s how it felt to me.
The first ‘chapter’ directed by Morgan Spurlock looks at whether a child’s name has any impact on their adult destiny. Alex Gibney then investigates patterns of corruption in the world of sumo wrestling. The third chapter by Eugene Jarecki explores a controversial theory behind the dramatic drop in crime rates in the 1990s. Finally, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady analyse whether children can be successfully bribed to improve their grades.
While each mini-documentary is interesting, some are definitely more intriguing than others. I personally found the first and third chapters to be the most intriguing. In saying that though, I could happily watch similar bite size interpretations of ‘Freakonomics’ and be very satisfied (I’m a sucker for documentaries and interpretations of statistical analyses).
Aside from the different subject matter addressed by each mini-documentary within ‘Freakonomics’, the other really interesting thing was appreciating the different styles adopted by each director to present the information. Mr Quiet Paws reflected that perhaps ‘Freakonomics’ would work better as a television series rather than as a cinematic film release, and I would have to agree.