The Big Short Review


Like most people, I get bored by everything to do with finance.

Very bored.

As soon as someone starts talking about the financial world, my eyes glaze over and all the words they use to describe the faux complexity of the things they do sends me straight to sleep.

Which, as director Adam McKay’s brilliant new film The Big Short illustrates, is kind of the point.

The year is 2008, and the world is going along its busy capitalist ways by making the rich richer, and the poor think this is a spiffing idea.

In this bygone age, everyone’s an investor – and the prime investment ticket in america is the housing market.

In fact, housing is so secure that banks happily give out loans to anyone who wants to buy a house or five, even if they don’t have a job.

This being america, the land of obscene excess, everyone wants a piece of the action – and that goes double for investors, who effectively place bets on how stable the housing market will be.

For decades this housing market was a sure thing, and no one would even dream of betting against it.

But one man has seen a bubble in the housing market that’s ready to burst, and when it does it might just take the american dream with it.

I’m not sure if any of the above makes sense or is even factually correct, but McKay’s new film certainly adds up.

The auteur behind Anchorman has turned his hand to more meaningful matters these days, with the underlying messages of The Other Guys and even Anchorman 2 focusing on the corrupt nature of capitalist societies.

The Big Short cranks McKay’s social justice dial up to 11, and is based on the real life events that lead to the global banking crisis of 2009.

Characters and film stars in The Big Short are secondary to exposing the truth behind america’s housing market collapse, a truth to which most everyday folk are still blind to.

A truth that is still going on today.

McKay takes this very important yet incredibly boring subject matter and turns it into an entertaining film about what caused the economic meltdown, so even an uninterested financial buffoon like me can understand what’s going on.

Of course, a stellar cast including Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Steve Carell amongst others never hurts.

The only downside with The Big Short is that all of the characters involved are morally bankrupt, even the guys you’re supposed to identify with and root for are solely seeking to profit from the potential misery of millions of ordinary people.

Not very noble or heroic, but then whoever said folk who work in finance were?

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2016