Although everyone lives on money and some worship it, it’s difficult making it exciting for movie viewing. ‘Wall Street’ and various heist films have managed to jazz up the dollar’s allure, although generally films focussing on the paper/plastic currency tend to be dry affairs. ‘The Big Short’ almost avoids this. A reasonably easy to follow essay on the financial crisis in the mid-2000’s, the mix of drama and humour mostly works in making the filthy lucre an interesting and absorbing subject.
In 2005, a group of financial wizards sense something is seriously wrong with the American housing market. Noticing the banks are telling fibs to consumers in order to rake in more dollars, they decide to bet against them. The group, including Michael (Christian Bale), Jared (Ryan Gosling), Mark (Steve Carrell) and Ben (Brad Pitt), aim their targets high. Gambling on the bank’s continuing greed, their actions foreshadow the looming crisis as the sub-prime housing bubble slowing bursts.
‘The Big Short’ is the type of film which should make viewers angry. They have a right to be as many of its protagonists are unbelievably ignorant of real world problems. Trapped in their desire for endless cash and partying on their financial spoils, many of these bankers cruelly depend on the desperation of their clients. This is very much underscored with Carrell’s role as Mark who increasingly becomes disillusioned with each revelation. Shocked at the unfeeling nature of the world in which he resides, it forces him and others to re-think their positions.
Carrell’s strong performance helps in understanding how the financial crisis began. Whilst the financial techno-babble occasionally ensures eyes begin glazing over, director Adam McKay valiantly ensures ‘The Big Short’ doesn’t become too bogged down. He is assisted greatly by a fine cast who play people you shouldn’t like and seem just as unscrupulous as the bankers they target. Making them different is their level of conscience and concern for those who ultimately paid the price for capitalistic greed.
‘Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it’. Hopefully this quote doesn’t apply to those featured in ‘The Big Short’. The book on which it is based by Michael Lewis should serve as a warning to future finance wizards whose financial trust we give at our peril.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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