Film Review: The Big Short

the-big-shortHaving received a variety of Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director (Adam McKay), The Big Short is led by a terrific ensemble cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling.

The film follows a group of finance workers who predict the financial crisis and bursting of the housing bubble in 2008, and seek to profit from it. Due to its focus on realism, complexity is something which comes into play. To get over this hurdle, the film breaks the fourth wall and introduces various celebrities to explain financial concepts to the audience. For example, one sequence sees Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, defining a sub-prime. It’s difficult what to make from these sequences; whilst they’re helpful and unique, they feel somewhat smug and condescending. Such sequences are made in order to convey a link between consumption and celebrity endorsement. This idea of consumerism features prominently throughout the film; between scenes the viewer is sometimes treated to a quick cut montage that shows all the ways in which we consume, ultimately linking to the consumer’s materialistic desires. This links back to the plot of the film, and how our primary characters are people who want to profit from the millions of Americans losing their homes.

Contrary to the antagonistic values held by our leading roles, The Big Short frequently plays for laughs and it so nearly always works wonders. In fact, it’s really quite surprising. Ryan Gosling plays a trader who takes the role of the narrator, often turning to tell the audience what’s happening. He’s charismatic and his humour is consistently effective. In spite of this, however, the film does verbally acknowledge how immoral the leads are, and how their goals perhaps shouldn’t be achieved.

Shedding a good amount of light on the financial crisis, The Big Short is not only entertaining but informative, if not shocking. It seems so unrealistic, yet you wonder how people managed to get away with what they did. With this, the film is candid; it proves to be a finance thriller like Margin Call (2011) with a style similar to 24 Hour Party People (2002).

The performances are great. It’s very impressive that McKay got to work with such a strong ensemble here. The film definitely benefits from it, despite the questionable wigs. I had no qualms with any of the cast members. Whilst Steve Carell was superb, Bale’s performance was just simply good, despite him receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for a role that could have been given more material.

Overall, The Big Short, is a great film despite its execution being questionable. It’s a unique breath of fresh air in an industry of adaptations and true life stories, and whilst we may feel bogged down with too many biopics made for the Oscars, it’s great to see one as vibrant and stylish as this.


What did you think of The Big Short?

Comment with your thoughts.

– Luke Compton


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