Film Review “The Big Short”

The Big Short3 The Big Short1 The Big Short2


First, the Recap:

A gut feeling. That nagging hunch in the pit of your very being. A sense that something which has been a standing certainty of decades is about to abruptly change.  And maybe, this supposition isn’t just coming from the gut, but from countless hours of time spent analyzing trends, patterns in the statistics, and coming to the determination a crash is pending. Such is it for offbeat, unconventional Scion Capital fund manager Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) who, in 2005, finds that U.S. housing market is about to tank within the next 2 years, thanks to the credit bubble created by very poorly designed bonds banks have provided to their customers through their mortgage loans. With this in mind, Burry chooses to bet against, or “short”, the market.

Dismissed by his bosses as being insane, investment banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), trader Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) and his team, plus two young, upstart investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley (John Magaro & Finn Wittrock) with the assistance of former banking ace Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) all catch wind of the default swap opportunity and soon, all are immersed in a scheme to involving billions of dollars and hundred of millions in potential profits for them all.  But as they keep waiting for the ball to drop, which takes unexpected turns and unwanted directions, tensions rise, their investors grow nervous, and it all threatens to come apart, and soon begs the questions as to what they’re really accomplishing in making the choices to do what they’ve attempted.

Next, my Mind:

Writer/director Adam McKay deftly takes the viewer through a seriously relentless, harrowing, frenetically-paced drama that paints one sobering portrait of the events leading up to the eventual 2007-2010 housing market crisis that indeed occurred, just like Burry predicted.  And the obscene amount of money these individuals involved ended up making was seen by some of them as kicking the banks in the teeth for their sheer stupidity in not realizing what was brewing, even when it most likely was a known inevitability and the institutions simply didn’t care.  But it also showcases how others among the main participants in the short felt in the aftermath of financial and human ruin the collapse actually caused, and the lack of morality in getting enriched.

Told through the eyes of all the aforementioned characters above, sometimes addressed to the camera/viewer personally, the project is a superb platform to illustrate the talent of the actors portraying them. Bale’s splendid display of Burry’s eccentricities yet fantastically adept intelligence is awesome to watch. Gosling’s straight-forward, albeit unscrupulous, investment banker is all savvy confidence intermingled with complete, greedy arrogance. Carrell’s stressed, emotionally compromised trader at wits end is likewise a treat to watch, as are Magaro and Wittrock’s fish out of water investors who catch the lucky break of a lifetime thanks to Pitt’s Rickert’s initially hesitant assistance. Add some very smart, funny, and cleverly worked cameos from Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and Anthony Bourdain, this really is one intelligent effort.

Viewers beware that there is a copious amount of expected language as well as two particular instances of nudity, which as always, this reviewer never prefers no matter what story is being told.  Overall, “The Big Short” is more than a worthy film, especially if one is not familiar with this period of recent history or the horrors that can lie behind the vaunted institutions we rely on and trust for our financial well-being.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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