“The Big Short” Scariest True Story You’ll Ever See
By Scott Kurland
Film: The Big Short
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, and Marisa Tomei
Director: Adam McKay
Let me make one thing clear, I know nothing about finance. I don’t know the housing market, nor about the economy crashing. I went to school for film studies and communications media. However, this year alone I saw a lot of films and documentaries about the housing bubble, and I understood them!!!! What did I learn? Economics is terrifying, the housing market is a gamble, and Ryan Gosling is entertaining as hell. Alright, that last remark refers to this week’s movie; the star studded “The Big Short” directed by “Anchorman” director Adam McKay. This film has been garnering all sorts of award buzz. Let’s find out if those claims are warranted shall we?
“The Big Short” tells the story of three groups of men who profit from the economy crash and housing bubble that began in early 2005. We go from 2005 all the way up to present day learning their backstories. First up is our narrator Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling). Jared helps to set the scene and acts as the audience's point of reference. Vennett also introduces us to Michael Burry (Chrisitan Bale). Burry is the man who discovers the housing market will fail and finds a way to profit from it. From there, Vennett forms an alliance with Mark Baum (Steve Carell), a disgruntled hedge fund manager who uses his company to fight for the little guy. Finally, there’s Charlie Gellar (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock); two young investors who are mentored by a retired banker (Brad Pitt) who shows them how to use this “Big Short” to their advantage. What culminates is the true story of the nine men who had front row seats to the biggest stock market crash since the Great Depression.
“The Big Short” is a very heavy and very dark comedic look at the seedy underbelly that is the New York stock market. Of all the people to tell this story, I’d never imagine in a million years that Adam McKay would be the right man for the job. McKay is a gifted comedy director, but drama is an entirely different beast altogether. McKay tells this story in one of the most authentic ways possible; he dumbs it down for us. Listen, everyone is smart in different ways. When it comes to film and journalism, that’s where I thrive, but if you asked me to comment on the DOW Jones my head would explode. McKay cleverly uses celebrities and experts to explain finance in a way thats viewer-friendly. Whether it is Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, Anthony Bourdain in a kitchen, or Selena Gomez playing Black Jack; we have the boring details explained in a way thats both clever and entertaining.
Another thing McKay does with his storytelling is address film and reality. There’s one scene in particular where Charlie Gellar and Jamie Shipley find out that the housing market will crash. The actors look right at the camera and say “This isn’t what really happened," then they do something different and tell us the truth of what actually occurred. You never see that in a biopic. Normally reality never comes into play with filmmaking. “The Big Short” is wonderfully directed by McKay, but the real joy of this film is the cast.
I never thought Christian Bale would be able to top his performance as Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter”. Boy, was I wrong. Bale knocks it out of the park. His performance as Burry is one of the most honest performances I’ve seen in years. I felt awful for Burry. Here’s a man who is the smartest person in the room, and no one believes him. To make matters worse, Burry is very socially awkward. He divulges too much about himself to strangers, and at times he is unable to recognize behavioral cues that help a person function in society. Bale’s performance here is a real game changer and we shall see what the academy thinks of it at the Oscars.
I shouldn’t just praise Bale, even though he steals the film. The entire cast is exceptional, especially Carell. Carell’s storyline is the saddest plot-line in the movie. When you learn why he’s fighting so hard and how much he’s lost so far; it’s enough to make you cry. Carell has really blossomed into a gifted actor, starting back in 2007 with “Dan In Real Life”. Over the last eight years Carell has been nominated for an Oscar, won a golden globe, and joined the Academy of motion pictures. This film is just another stepping stone for Carell, who is quickly becoming this generations Jack Lemon.
“The Big Short” is one of those films that hits all the right marks. With one of the most phenomenal casts of the year and an equally compelling story, “The Big Short” is a must see film. You won’t be able to forget this movie once you leave the theater. Do yourself a favor and see “The Big Short.” It’s a powerful, heartfelt, and emotional movie.
REVIEW RATING: A -