Adam McKay’s The Big Short focuses on a very interesting subject matter. Although this may have functioned better as a documentary rather than a fiction film, The Big Short is still entertaining and informative.
Michael Burry, an eccentric hedge fund manager, is first to spot that the US housing market is built on a bubble that will explode. Others, such as jaded Mark Baum are told about the investment opportunity. With the big banks believing that the housing market will never fail, it is the outsiders who are seen as the naysayers…
Directed and co-written by Adam McKay, The Big Short tells the story of the men who predicted the housing bubble crash and subsequent economic meltdown of 2008. The different narrative strands of the film sometimes entwine, but always head towards the same goal.
The roster of players that feature in the film include the insightful vanguard Michael Burry, the shrewd Jared Vennett, and the paranoid Ben Rickert. The film is an ensemble piece, slotting different elements of the history together. Some of the more prominent characters are given some backstory, but the focus remains on the affairs rather than the personnel.
Adam McKay makes something of a comedy out of what could have been rather dry source material. The tone of the film shifts from amusing to educational at varying points in the film. Although there are plenty of jokes, The Big Short attempts to stick to the condemnation of banking practices. In breaking the fourth wall, various narrators tell the audience that the depictions may not be accurate. Moreover, there are some amusing breaks in which well-known faces explain some of the financial jargon. This adds to the feel of the film lending itself to the documentary style. Christian Bale offers an excellent performance as Burry. Steve Carell is also on good form, and Charlie Geller and Finn Wittrock add enthusiasm in smaller roles. Ryan Gosling does a decent job as the unscrupulous narrator.
The Big Short is a film that will most likely be applauded for making the complicated comprehensible. The fact that it entertains as well is also worthy of praise.