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Payback

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Canada

2012

Rated R • 1h 22m

Director Jennifer Baichwal

Starring

Genre Documentary

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A documentary adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, an investigation of how debt functions in societies across the world, monetary or otherwise. The film includes interviews with prominent intellectuals providing commentary on the different forms of debt and how this shapes our social systems.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

40

The Hollywood Reporter by

Aesthetically, it's desultory. Talking-heads rants and ruminations are further stultified by the amateurish aesthetics. Visually, zooms, pans and filler moments enervate the message. Most annoying, the dour music grates throughout; its hollow grinding, we'd guess, is an attempt to impart profundity.
63

Slant Magazine by Bill Weber

This documentary 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.
60

NPR by Mark Jenkins

Ultimately, this intriguing but scattershot movie turns on the incompatibility of two worldviews - the corporate-financial vs. the environmental-spiritual.
75

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Rick Groen

Payback is nothing if not brave. It's a documentary attempt to give concrete shape to an abstract discussion, using the medium of film to transplant a nuanced thesis – on the concept of debt – from its natural home on the printed page.
60

Variety by Rob Nelson

Payback is a rarefied conceptual documentary that will appeal to a limited but highly appreciative audience.
50

New York Post by V.A. Musetto

All are subjects worthy of discussion, but tackling them in one film disrupts the movie's momentum and shortchanges viewers. Baichwal could have devoted a single film to just BP's disgraceful behavior.