Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling
Director: Adam McKay
Running Time: 130 mins
The Big Short is an American film about the true story of four different groups of bankers who predicted the collapse of the world economy in 2008, and decided to make an unprecedented bet against the American economy and take on the big, greedy banks of Wall Street.
This is a really bizarre film. On the one hand, it’s an interesting story about the financial crisis in the 2000s, but on the other, it’s a bit of a frantic movie, with all sorts of random clips, breaking the fourth wall and such like thrown in here and there, which doesn’t always work to its advantage, but in the end, this is a film that does come together very nicely.
I’ll start with the more normal side to the film, which is the biographical story about these guys who took on America’s big banks ahead of the financial crisis. It’s a story that’s not only interesting to watch unfold, considering this event is in such recent memory for everyone, and yet 99% of us had no idea it was coming, but it becomes really compelling and even emotionally resonant as it develops more and more.
The film, at the start, is mainly a comedy. It’s almost got the vibe of a Wolf Of Wall Street rip-off in the first forty minutes or so, and although it is quite fun to watch, it’s not always the most interesting, given the extreme complexities of the financial talk. However, as it moves into its second act, there is a huge increase in the drama of the story, and talking about how some of the main characters were so sickened by the banks’ despicable actions that led to the collapse.
So, although I wasn’t necessarily expecting it at the beginning, The Big Short tells its story really well, and makes for one of the most intriguing watches of the year.
However, what I came away from this mostly with was its comedic and directorial techniques. The comedy is similar to The Wolf Of Wall Street (although maybe not as raucous). It’s snappy, well-written and consistently funny, so there are a lot of chances to have a good laugh here.
But it’s the first forty minutes of this film that really had an impression on me. Basically, director Adam McKay takes a really original approach to the whole establishing stage by making it full of quick-cut clips and breaking the fourth wall.
Initially, we’re met with endless Ryan Gosling talking straight at us to explain the complexities of the financial world, and although it’s at first a bit jarring and confusing, it does work in the end. Meanwhile, there’s all sorts of stock footage from the news, music videos and other stuff from 2005-8 that are interspersed throughout the film, and sometimes, their inclusion gives the film an almost frantic and annoying atmosphere.
However, I realised that, over the course of the film, the energetic way in which the opening stages were handled was necessary. The financial terms that are thrown around here and there in this film are insanely confusing for us normal people, and although the exposition may seem patronising at times, it’s really necessary. They even get Selena Gomez and Margot Robbie in a bubble bath to explain it to us, so it’s all in good fun too.
Overall, The Big Short is an interesting one. I was hugely confused by the direction that Adam McKay took in its first act, but as the film and the story developed, his seemingly frantic choices began to work, and in the end, helped to make this a really compelling story, which is why I’ll give this a 7.9.