An inside look at the men who predicted the collapse of the housing market in the US.
If you told me when Anchorman 2 released that two years later director Adam McKay would be back with a timely drama that was filled with stars and nominated for multiple Oscars I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here we are with The Big Short.
And it’s pretty freaking brilliant. McKay and fellow screenwriter Charles Randolph (The Life of David Gale) have taken the kernel of Micheal Lewis’ 2010 non-fiction book and skewed it through a comic lens to create something utterly unique.
There’s a zany energy to The Big Short which makes it instantly compelling, and suggests that McKay has a great future in more dramatic territory. It’s also utterly self aware without feeling precious, with characters commenting on events directly to the audience and a few wonderful breakout moments where real celebs like Selena Gomez and Margot Robbie explain complex financial terms.
It should be a total mess but somehow it all works, and that’s down to the rigours of the story and some powerful performances. Christian Bale is the best he’s been in years as a man obsessed with numbers and none to great at dealing with real human beings. He’s intense and childlike and mesmerising, so it’s a shame he doesn’t get more screentime.
The rest of the cast is great too – Steve Carell continues to polish those acting chops and Ryan Gosling proves his comic timing again an also leads us through this horrible tale.
Because it is a horrorshow on every level, as the layers of corruption are peeled back to reveal the domino effect which brought the country, in and some sense the world, low. The inside dealings, dodgy trades and despicable behaviour which allowed one of the biggest industries in the world to rely on handing out 100 percent loans to people one step above the poverty line.
There’s a sense in which the film needs that buffering layer of comedy to filter out the rage which floods through the audience as they watch the events unfold, right to their bitter end. And there’s no winner here, or certainly no winner, and the effects of these years will be felt by future generations for years to come.
The financial chat is sometimes technical, even with Robbie explaining things from a bathtub, but otherwise The Big Short is essential viewing and deserves to be in the Oscar race for 2016.