Film review: The Big Short (4 out of 5)

The Big Short
The Big Short
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The banking crisis in the USA around the mid-2000s put millions out of work, left millions more without a home and had ramifications across the world.

So how do you translate what was a highly complex financial disaster into a movie that won’t bore your audience into a stupour.

Well, it seems you do the complete opposite to what might seem sensible.

For a start you get Adam McKay to direct and provide the screenplay.

McKay has given us the films Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and The Other Guys - so it was an interesting and certainly far from obvious choice.

However, McKay’s touch has created one of the most interesting and absorbing movies for a long time.

The 130 minutes sped by as we followed the stories of various high-financiers who realise, in the face of disbelief from bankers, the media and ‘experts’, that a housing disaster is on the horizon.

McKay is helped, of course, by an amazing cast that many directors would give their right arm for.

Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, a strange number-cruncher with a passion for thrash-metal music, who realises that the millions of low-end mortgage deals are set to implode.

His decision to insure against what seems to just about everyone else an impossible event ends up with a few others following suit.

That’s the highly simplified summary.

McKay, however, uses two unusual techniques to make sure no one gets left behind. The first is to break the fourth wall and get his actors to suddenly talk directly at the audience and the other, far more unusual idea is to effectively stop the action and get people to explain a term in simple terms.

And so we have celebrities appearing such as actor Margot Robbie in a bath drinking Champagne or TV chef Anthony Bourdain in his kitchen telling us what Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) or a Synthetic CDO are.

The cast includes, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and a particularly superb performance from Steve Carell in the major roles.

However, there’s great support from the likes of Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong and Marisa Tomei, among many others.

The hand-held camera work, occasional frantic editing, off screen sound effects and eclectic soundtrack choice all worked for me.

I’ve seen comments that The Big Short isn’t funny enough but the humour was spot of for me, especially as the result of the crisis was enormous misery and suffering for many innocent people.

Film details: The Big Short (15) 130mins

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol

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