The Big Short Review by Ashley Menzel
Numbers, man. A film that could be overwhelmingly technical and boring pulsates with energy, emotion, humor and outrage.
The film has a stellar cast with Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Marisa Tomei, the almost unrecognizable Brad Pitt, Finn Wittrock, Max Greenfield, Hamish Linklater and more. The film follows Dr. Michael Burry (Bale)’s realization that the housing market is going to fail, an unprecedented event in history. Many were writing him off as crazy, particularly his investors, but he was convinced. This idea reached two separate groups that are represented in this story.
The groups were composed of Mark Baum (Carrell), Danny Moses (Rafe Spall), Porter Collins (Linklater), and Vinny Daniel (Jeremy Strong) as a company named Front Point, which operates under JP Morgan. They were approached by Jared Vennett (Gosling), who is tries to convince the group to buy against or bet against the United States economy and the housing market. By doing so, when the housing market crashes, they would make an incredible amount of money. Before they could agree to do it, Mark wanted to research and ensure that this was really happening and he wasn’t being duped. They ventured to Miami and Las Vegas to discuss with homeowners, real estate agents and big bankers. Mark could not believe the level of corruption and deceit.
The other group of our story, Brownfield was comprised of New York City newcomers, Charlie Geller (John Magaro), Jamie Shipley (Wittrock) with veteran Ben Rickert (Pitt), who they convince to help them in their endeavor in New York City. They were excited to travel to New York and become validated in the spectrum so much larger than their home in Boulder, Colorado. Charlie and Jamie were young and excited about the discovery they had made in Dr. Burry’s work, agreed with him, and invested their money in the fact that the housing market would crumble. They wanted to bet against the American economy but had not thought of the financial impact their win could have on the country.
What makes this film great is the fact that it doesn’t try to talk over the audience’s head. It doesn’t jam jargon down your throat, but rather does a pretty amazing job of explaining the terms in a way that is comprehensible to the general public. To further illustrate this, they use famous celebrities as themselves to explain complex financial topics. We see Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and Anthony Bourdain. This brings a “lightness” and a sense of humor the film as well. There are cuts to various news reels, clips, and images to further accentuate what the director is trying to say, which I think really enhance and improve the film as a whole.
The one thing that I would have to say I dislike about the film is the use of a handy cam for a lot of the shots. There were also a few scenes where the camera was deliberately out of focus or focusing in on someone’s face. I can see why they made those choices. It had a more authentic, homemade look to the film, but for me, was more distracting that helpful or artistic.
Overall I found this film to be very interesting, when I anticipated being bored to tears. There are moments that conjure up fear, disgust, anger, sadness and laughter. The film is incredibly well-rounded with a marvelous cast and dedicated storytelling. I would recommend this film to anyone who is even the slightest bit interested. It is another one of those films that showcases a topic few really know about but should and the newest addition to the mass of films hoping to educate the general public.