Movie Review : The Big Short

Directed by Adam Mckay & Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

The Big Short (2015) follows the story of the unlikely few who recognized the real-estate bubble and predicted the impending stock market crash of 2008.

It follows the storyline of three financial teams: one led by Michael Burry, played by Christian Bale, another led by Mark Baum, played by Steve Carrel, and the duo team, Jamie Shipley and Charlie Geller, played by Finn Wittrock and John Magaro. These teams make a world-shaking discovery of the corrupt actions of the United States financial and real estate sectors. 

Their discovery leads them to bet against the monolith of the housing market, hence the name, the big short.  

This movie is based on the 2010 book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis. The movie follows fairly closely with the book, however, some names are changed and characters are dramaticized. 

 However, many would argue that the book itself does not paint an entirely accurate picture of the housing bubble as a whole and the entirety of the stock market crash. 

A unique aspect of this movie is that it periodically steps outside of the storyline and into the third person, to explain some of the complex economic concepts discussed in the movie. They have celebrities and actors, like Margot Robbie, simplify the concept for the viewers.

The Big Short is a drama and its main themes include cynicism, distrust, egocentrism, corruption, urgency, and dumbfoundedness. 

Essentially, the R rating of this movie is for explicit language/adult themes; it definitely takes a mature viewer to enjoy the entirety and complexity of the movie and for the content to be appropriate. 

Christian Bale was 41 at the time of this movie. He is an English actor, known for his method acting and his roles in various Batman franchise movies, American Psycho, and The Machinist

Bale Portrays an eccentric financial investor, Michael Burry, with a glass eye and a habit of being barefoot. Aside from his awkwardness, he is an incredibly smart financial investor. Christian Bale encapsulates this awkward-intelligence perfectly; he is able to convey this personality with just the pondering looks on his face and his inability to maintain eye contact. 

This role is incredibly different from many of Bale’s previous works. Whereas many of his previous characters carry a sense of assured confidence, his portrayal of Burry requires him to step into the mind of a man with the intellect to know he’s right, but the lack of social skills to effectively convey this message. This failure to project his assuredness creates conflict with Burry’s bosses throughout the movie. 

Steve Carell was 53 at the time of this movie. He is an American actor, known most widely for his role as Michael Scott in The Office, and is also a writer and director. 

Carell portrays a stereotypical New York businessman, Mark Baum. Characterized by his cynical worldview, especially his view of the financial sector, Baum leads a team of four other younger, cynical businessmen; his proteges. Carrel perfectly encapsulates this hardcore, yet sensitive, leader through the thick New York accent, the heavy use of expletives, yet also his hopeful and vulnerable demeanor. 

This movie varies from many of Steve Carrel’s previous works, as he tends to act and direct in the comedy realm. This shows off Carrel’s multifaceted abilities as a performer, embodying such a different style of character. 

Ryan Gosling was 35 at the time of the movie. He is a Canadian actor who first rose to stardom on The Mickey Mouse Club, but is also known for his roles in The Notebook, La La Land, and Drive

Gosling portrays one of the secondary characters in this story, Jared Vennett. Vennett is the character who originally approaches Mark Baum about the real estate bubble. His more important role in the story is the narrator; he also participates in the third person explanation scenes. 

This movie is a must see for anyone who enjoys memoirs and “based on a true story” style movies, or anyone who’s fascinated by the stock market exchange and the financial world. Even those who are not interested in economics will enjoy the cast’s fantastic telling of a story that seems too corrupt, illegal, and evil to be true . 

A a viewer with limited knowledge of the financial sector, my  favorite part of this movie is it helps the audience truly understand the housing bubble and the stock market crash. This is a complex issue, that many still do not understand today or are simply misinformed. While this movie is great entertainment, it is also incredibly helpful as a guide to understand some very complex economic ideas. 

The Big Short receives a 4 out of 5 in my book. Seeing the build up to one of the most life-shattering events of America’s history unfold before your eyes keeps you captivated and interested, while the cast flexing of their acting abilities and skills gives you an appreciation for the quality of the movie overall.

 My apprehensions about this movie recieving a 5 out of 5 are purely based on my distaste of extremely foul language and the fact that the story doesn’t have a happy ending. While the use of expletives does create an accurate representation of what life in the New York financial sector looks like, it is not pleasing to listen to.  Additionally, this is not a feel good movie in any form or fashion; it is an accurate and heartbreaking account of the failure of the economic system in America and the devastating impacts that it has on virtually every person in the country.