Movie Review – The Big Short (2016)

Director: Adam McKay

Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock

The Big Short tells three separate stories of people who saw the housing crisis coming, and bet against the housing markets and the bank. When the economy crashed these men made money, but at what cost to the conscious?

It must have been a little tricky to market this film. After all, while it condemns the people who drove the economy down and basically wrecked people’s lives, many of whom have yet to recover, it does focus on people who came out of the crisis as winners, who bet against the housing market. It must be raw for some people who were directly for it, and I would find it hard to believe that they’d be able to root for the protagonists in the film. That being said, the acting is great, especially from Carell, and I think there’s enough heart shown that it just about manages to stay on the side of the people. There is one exchange which highlights this perfectly, where Brad Pitt’s character turns to two others and basically tells them not to celebrate because it just means that people are going to lose jobs, lose homes, and lose lives.

It’s still a recent crises but despite this the film maintains a sense of dark humor and pokes fun at itself. It acknowledges that all the financial jargon can be bamboozling, but don’t worry, Margot Robbie is on hand to explain things while she’s sitting in a bath tub! (I’ll be honest here, had the whole film been Margot Robbie explaining how the economy crashed while sitting in a bubble bath I would still be giving this a positive review). I’m not someone who finds it easy to understand financial terms so I appreciated that they held the audience’s hand through it. The three stories don’t really come together but each of them are entertaining in their own right, and the film has an energy about it that almost serves to distract from the dark plight, then drops an emotional bomb at just the right moment. It also doesn’t shy away from showing the effect it had on the average person, but it doesn’t make it the focus of the film.

It ends on a sorely depressing note as well and it makes you wonder about the state of the world because people are making the same mistakes as before, and the fact that everything that happened basically got ignored and the people responsible didn’t see any consequences from it is sickening. There is some irony in the fact that a Hollywood movie has been made criticizing the corrupt financial world, because Hollywood isn’t exactly a land of virtue itself, but I think The Big Short is able to raise people’s hackles by reminding them about what happened, and then direct the ire at Wall Street rather than at itself.

The casting was spot on, even the supporting roles, and I really liked the energy and humour it had about it, aside from the bleak ending that really just serves to show how short-sighted we can be.

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