Hoping to spur debate about income inequality, as “An Inconvenient Truth” did over climate change, Jacob Kornbluth’s “Inequality for All” listens intently as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich recounts the history of America’s rich/poor divide and argues that the status quo is destroying our nation. Kornbluth has it easier than Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim did on the environmental film: Here, the job is not to convince us of something many Americans don’t want to believe, but to address something we all know is happening and nail down just how bad it really is. Judging from the pit left in a viewer’s stomach, it does the job pretty well. The trouble will be influencing those who make policy.
Like “Truth,” this film avoids the familiar impartial-arbiter mode of documentary filmmaking and adopts a single perspective as its own. (Viewers will not, in other words, hear from any Gordon Gekko types arguing that wealth belongs to those who can take it.) Both films pair bits of biographical color with footage of well-polished lectures, bringing in just enough outside material to make them feel like real movies.