The Big Short

the big shortOscar winner for best adapted screenplay, The Big Short offers the explanation of the stock market / housing bubble crash that wiped out many people’s retirement accounts and forced others into foreclosing their homes. And just as you may have suspected, yep, it was greedy Wall Street pricks that were just trying to line their golden parachutes a little more at the population’s expense.

Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B is one of the forces behind the film and the production looks and feels like one of theirs. You can watch World War Z to see what I’m talking about. Regardless, it’s a quality production with a well written script and strong performances. Speaking of the script, the story in terms of the explanation of the whole mess is actually pretty well explained. This is kind of a miraculous feat as they’ve taken some pretty boring, hard-to-understand material and made it digestible for someone who knows nothing about Wall Street. They even offer different bullet point explanations to help break down details and when they do, they often have a celebrity like Anthony Bourdain help to explain the point which was entertaining to be sure.

I’ll forego the explanation of the storyline; if you were an adult in the last 10 years, I would guess you lost some money during the debacle as most did so I’m sure you can relate from your own experience. Suffice it to say, the film is based on true events and the bottom line is that we all got screwed and our government managed to arrest a total of one person in a colossal display of favoritism for an industry that only cares about the bottom line and not the people who get crushed along the way.

The actors are great, really great. The lineup is impressive and does not fail to deliver. Given the complexity of the script and the fact that most of the material involves finances and investment, it’s pretty hard to make that interesting but luckily the performances convey the concepts in a compelling way. The standouts for me were Christian Bale as the doctor who was the architect for betting against the housing market as well as the neurotic, quirky character portrayed by Steve Carell as one of the heads of Morgan Stanley. The lineup includes Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.

If you like a challenging film with great performances involving some intellectual material instead of super heroes, you’ll want to check out why The Big Short won an Oscar.

reviewed by Sean McKnight