In 2008, the world’s economy collapsed, and The Big Short is the latest retelling of a story that truly effected everyone in the world. Including those children who have been born since then, so they don’t get off the hook. A film which dramatizes the creation of the Credit Debt Obligation and the betting and insuring of such mortgage transactions is due, and delivered with outstanding gusto and humour.
Christian Bale plays the real Dr Michael Burry, who essentially decides that the housing market is flimsy and poorly designed and that there is money in betting against it. As this new form of betting, or, shorting, is created and starts to spread, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Rafe Spall, and an array of others get involved and never quite meet but collude across the same market and strategies, waiting for the system that they all had faith in to collapse. The longer the wait, the more despairing and darker the financial world turns out to be.
If there is a main character, it is Steve Carell’s Mark Baum. Hundreds of supporting characters dip in and out, but you remain totally invested in Baum’s outrage in the system, that he can’t help but get more involved in. The film somewhat frames all of this as a dark web of temptation.
The film begins to exceed itself when it brings out the jokes and is almost a horror-comedy as each banker they meet aims to be darker and more twisted than the last. The film knows you won’t understand it, so it’ll literally cutaway to Margot Robbie in a bathtub to lecture you on how mortgage trading works. It really hammers home its points and shows good people turn to the dark side with precision. It is not just about them, and does give a real balance of characters from the real world set to lose their homes.
Baum’s hopeless crusade to destroy the system that perpetuates evil is doomed to lose, and against this backset of irony, the film becomes even jucier and funnier. These are some of the funniest performances Bale, Gosling, Spall, and Jeremy Strong have ever done. Carell, oddly, is playing the straight man, despite his insanity.
Watch it. Its important. Its funny. Its terrifying.