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Film Review: The Big Short



Directed by: Adam McKay
Screenplay by: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carrel and Brad Pitt

After seeing The Big Short at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, I was not disappointed. The film doesn’t fall ‘Short’ of expectations. Featuring a large, diverse and talented cast with Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carrel and Brad Pitt to name only a few. The film is based on the 2010 book ‘The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine’ by Michael Lewis and depicts the factors and events that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Adam McKay tries to explain that what the banks and government said was difficult to explain, due to the complexity of the financial world, was actually very simple: the banks got greedy!

Though a quite long film (210 mins), I felt tense throughout and even realised an hour or so in to the film that I was on the edge of my seat and gripping the arm of my chair a bit tightly. The film's fast pace and soundtrack, which featured a number of rock songs and heavy metal music (everything from Led Zeppelin to Metallica to Neil Young is in this film) gives the film an incredibly chaotic atmosphere adding to the absurdity of the events unfolding. Which I think could have been what McKay was going for.

The cast in this film were all on top form with a few really stand-out performances. Christian Bale for instance gives an impressive performance as nonconformist and industry outsider Dr. Michael Burry, who is essentially the first to spot the flaw in the financial system. Bale play’s Dr. Burry flawlessly nailing all Burry’s eccentricities. Steve Carrell showed his range stepping away from his usual comic roles into a serious one as Mark Baum, another industry outsider, who in the film is dealing with anger issues and the loss of his brother who committed suicide. 

Lastly, Ryan Gosling as Jared Vennett, a talented and unapologetically self-interested trader who gets wind of what Dr. Burry is doing. Gosling’s character also narrates the film. He constantly breaks the fourth wall addressing the camera and audience directly talking us through the events and explaining who the players involved are. Gosling as Vennett introduces the film and its topic by saying: “Some industry outsiders and weirdos saw it coming but not me I am not a weirdo in fact I’m pretty fucking cool”- Ryan Gosling as Jared Vennett.

Watching The Big Short you can’t help but be horrified at the events unfolding and yet amused at the same time as the dialogue in the film is very quick witted. The film also puts quotes on the screen as the film progresses, each marking the different stages of the decent into financial disaster. These quotes are often very amusing in the context of the film. For example: "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry." Overheard at a Washington, D.C. bar. All this gives the film a much needed dose of comic flavour.
I have never seen a film quite like this before, the best way I can think to describe The Big Short is a Michael Moore documentary film meets Martin’s Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’. Definitely a film to go see.

Written by Sophie Watts


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