Those who have seen Tom Meadmore’s debut feature documentary How To Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends, in which the director follows his girlfriend and boss as they pursue their dreams as musicians, would be all too familiar with the director’s methods and own personal approach when it comes to documentary filmmaking. Back with his brand new film The Outsider, Meadmore attempts to shine a light on one of the most iconic figures of the shipping industry of recent times, as he tries to get to the bottom of what exactly happened to the man who once had the world at his feet, only to lose it all overnight.
For years, Taiwanese shipping magnate Nobu Su was regarded as one of the most legendary figures in the industry. Revered by those who worked for him and respected throughout the world by anyone who came across him, the billionaire managed to make a name for himself as a likeable, if slightly eccentric character. Traveling the world on private Jets and regaling his guests with tales of future dreams and projects, the owner of one of the largest shipping companies in the world looked as though he were unstoppable.
When the markets fell in 2008, Nobu Su was one of the first billionaires to lose everything overnight. Becoming increasingly paranoid and convinced that his rivals had a hand in his demise, all Nobu Su could do was watch while a fortune he spent years amassing disappeared right before his eyes. However, recently discovered information has convinced Nobu Su that he may have been swindled by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) whom he accuses of defrauding him of a huge chunk of his fortune by falsifying margin calls in order to keep the bank afloat, which consequently caused the shipping magnet to default.
Featuring interviews with shipping experts and business analysts as well as Nobu and even an ex RBS executive who seems to back the former billionaire’s story, The Outsider manages to be informative as well as entertaining without ever overstepping the mark into being too overly explanat. Director Meadmore uses intrigue and a lighthearted approach to tell a hugely engaging story which is set to teach its audiences far more than they ever envisaged knowing about the intricacies of the shipping industry or big business in general.
Overall, The Outsider allows its subject to talk freely about his own experiences, doubts and suspicions without judgement, something which Meadmore should be commended for. At times a little too expositional and slightly too repetitive, the film could perhaps have benefited from taking a step back, but on the whole Meadmore does a great job by injecting a huge amount of fun into a subject matter which could have easily fallen into the predictable.