“The Big Short” is a whirlwind of numbers, huge amounts of money, financial terminology and raging testosterone.
The premise of the film is simple: it explains how the 2008 financial crisis occurred, introduces the men who predicted the disaster and reveals how they profited from it.
“The Big Short” illustrates how the downturn in the American housing market in 2008 was the result of a complicated web of fraud and manipulation of unsuspecting and often underprivileged Americans.
The film features an all-star cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Bale and Carell are the clear standouts.
Cameos from celebrities, such as Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain, add a human element and break up the film’s incessant financial terminology. These celebrities speak directly to the camera and use metaphors to describe terms, such as subprime loan or housing bubble, and explain how they triggered the Great Recession.
Although the film makes great efforts to simplify the topic, it is still two hours of complicated ideas and mathematical terms that are difficult to grasp.
The camera work is deliberately sloppy at times and the film is reminiscent of a quirky “mockumentary.” Many characters break the fourth wall at times, speaking directly to viewers in a sarcastic tone.
These techniques emphasize that the crisis is unfolding in real time, but is also an annoying distraction at times, taking away from the flow of action.
The film is directed and co-written by Adam McKay (“Anchorman”) and Charles Randolph, and is based on the 2010 book by Michael Lewis.
The film is nominated for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor for Bale.
Overall, the film does an excellent job simplifying a dizzying array of complex terminology and exposing the villainous behavior of big banks.
McKay makes it clear that this historic event should not be forgotten, and neither should the millions of Americans who lost their homes and their jobs.
“The Big Short” is draining to watch due to its complexity and pessimistic conclusion, which ultimately makes it a difficult film to stomach.