The Big Short Review: Money Talks

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt

The Overview

Four seemingly insignificant people predict the credit and and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to try and take down the big banks whose greed and lack of foresight is setting them on the path to certain disaster.

The Good

I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to like this film, and indeed it does seem to be dividing opinion. It is a subject matter that I have absolutely no prior knowledge of or interest in, and that hasn’t really changed after seeing this film, but to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The film makes no attempts to disguise how boring the subject matter is of this film, and indeed it plays on its mundanity to amusing effect; but such a well made and well acted film is anything but boring. I had no idea what was going on for the large part, but it is a very well structured, and well paced piece with a huge amount of talent on display. Christian Bale is particularly excellent as Michael Burry; the socially inept outcast who first spots the collapse coming. Steve Carell also continues to prove that he can shine in serious roles, and Ryan Gosling is great as the bridge between the film and the audience, frequently breaking the fourth wall to address the audience; probably to make sure we’re keeping up with what is going on.

This is a film which doesn’t dumb down, and doesn’t take any shortcuts. It is very intelligent, quick talking and complex, but don’t let this put you off. As mentioned, the fourth wall breaks keep the audience hooked and the celeb cameos serve their purpose well. The cameos are there both to inform the audience in a slightly easier to digest manner, with the use of clever analogies, but they are also proving a point about how easily we as human beings can be distracted. Ask anyone who has seen the film what Margot Robbie was talking about, and I bet they won’t remember. Ask the same person if they remember the scene of Margot Robbie in the bathtub, and you’ll bet they remember! It is amazing how effective this is, in relating how easily the banks were able to deceive people with a simple distraction and hiding the facts behind intentionally complicated terminology.

I loved the way this film was shot, and it is surprising that Adam McKay’s previous credits before this include films like Anchorman and Step Brothers! It is a far cry away from these comedies, and I really loved the way it was filmed like a documentary in places; unsteady camera work, unusual close-ups and the frequent addresses to the audience, all added to this documentary feel.

The Bad

Whilst I liked the structure, and the interconnecting and overlapping stories, at times I felt there were just too many people to care about. When your brain is already working overtime to try and make sense of the plot, it is tough to try and remember who is who, what their motives are and what they’re trying to achieve. With so many characters fighting for screen time, there were too many forgettable characters, and even heavyweights like Brad Pitt, kind of fade into the background.

I liked that the subject matter wasn’t dumbed down, but at times it moves so quickly that you can feel a little bit left in the dust. It took me a good half hour to settle into the tone and pace of the film, and once I did, it was thoroughly enjoyable, but prior to that it was a bit overwhelming. As long as you know what you’re letting yourself in for when you see this film, I have no doubts that you can find something to enjoy.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. The Big Short is a highly intelligent, masterfully created piece of modern cinema, with a wonderful cast, and a remarkable ability to turn the most boring of topics into an interesting and enjoyable film. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, so even if you think it isn’t for you, give it a try and hopefully you’ll enjoy as much as I did!

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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4 comments

  1. Nice review, I agree with you, it’s a complex story but well told. Yes there are a lot of characters but I ended up caring for them all, and seeing as they are bankers, thats not easy!

    PS. Steve Carrell was wonderful.

    Like

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