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The Big Short Review

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Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bale and Best Adapted Screenplay, The Big Short arrives on our shores smothered in accolades and reeking of Oscar buzz. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis (Moneyball), it marks director Adam McKay’s first foray into big drama, having very successfully forged his way with comedy and his creative partnership with Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Step Brothers, The Other Guys). Here sans Ferrell, he moves away from the jokes but holds tight to his wit as he dives into the US financial crisis of 2008.
 

While not the most enticing of concepts, two hours of people talking about mortgages and banking, McKay has pulled some very skilful moves. First, by assembling a top notch cast at the top of their game in the shape of Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Secondly, by writing a terrific script, dialogue heavy but light on its feet and thirdly bringing the first two elements together with frenetic visuals, funny vignettes, straight to camera addresses and a brilliant soundtrack.
Shot with high energy by cinematographer, Barry Ackroyd (United 93), the film feels pacey and urgent and even though it’s stuffed to the gills with financial jargon, it doesn’t threaten to overwhelm the non-finance wizards among us. Just when you think you might be getting a little lost, McKay injects the narrative with a real life celebrity to explain the troubling jargon, cutting through it before returning to the story at hand. Who better than Margot Robbie in a bubble bath drinking champagne to give us the nuts and bolts of subprime mortgages? And who better to explain CDO’s than chef Anthony Bourdain?
 
 
Ryan Gosling’s charismatic, Ferris Bueller-like addresses to camera bring the fun and his Jared Vennett, a schmooze-ball banker is brilliantly obnoxious and “transparent with self-interest”. All of the cast are terrific but special mention should go to Steve Carrell and Christian Bale who simply knock it out of the park. With nice support from the likes of Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo and Karen Gillan, it’s not a complete boys club and the film weaves in an out of each of the characters’ stories while never over complicating it.
There are lots of witty insights as to what the American public were doing before the crash happened, “walking around like they’re in an Enya video” so wrapped up in their lives that they were “asleep at the wheel” as the banks destroyed them. The figures sighted at the end of the film make for disturbing viewing and entertaining and fun as the film is, it never loses sight of the people so devastatingly affected.

So if you're wondering what to spend your hard earned cash on this weekend, invest in The Big Short. You'll get a nice return for your money.




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