Movie Review | The Big Short (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Freda Cooper 18.01.2016 1

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The Big Short (UK Rating: 15)

When the housing market crashed in the States, it was no laughing matter, and what followed was even worse, yet Director Adam McKay has taken the subject and turned it into a comedy. Bitter, sarcastic, and downright cynical, The Big Short is released in cinemas on Friday, 22nd January.

Based on true events, it follows four financial mavericks with their eyes on the ball. They had spotted that the banks and other major financial institutions were ignoring impending disaster and, to make them pay for their arrogance and stupidity, they took them on. In fact, they took them all the way to the cleaners.

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What makes it fascinating is that they did it as individuals, not a group, which gives the film a smart, crystal clear structure. Their stories run in parallel until they eventually start to converge and three of them being to work together. The exception is Michael Burry (Christian Bale), the first man to see what was coming. Although he describes himself as socially awkward, it's more likely that he's on the autistic spectrum: his eccentricities include playing both the drums and loud heavy metal in his office, but he's brilliant at what he does - so brilliant, in fact, that he talks all the big banks into coming on-board with a devious little scheme of his. They think they are taking him for a ride, but they have got it completely the wrong way round.

The majority of the financial jargon in the film will be beyond most people, but McKay's got that covered by including some joyfully cheeky sequences to explain the gobbledegook, hosted by celebrities. Chef Antony Bourdain compares a particular type of bond to the fish he puts in a stew, while Margot Robbie translates another financial package into plain English while relaxing in a bubble bath, drinking champagne. It's the Martin Lewis approach to high finance and it works brilliantly.


 
Although the main characters operate independently of each other, they are still an ensemble cast, and a high calibre one at that. Brad Pitt plays down his role underneath a straggly beard and tousled hair, while the infinitely slicker Ryan Gosling likes to talk directly to the camera, while Steve Carell is permanently angry and never happier than when he is. Christian Bale's performance is the one that stands out, though, creating an outsider who is miles ahead of everybody else around him. Carell isn't far behind him, either, combining comedy and straight acting to great effect as somebody who is constantly shouting at the world, yet strangely likeable because he's the only truly honest man on the screen.

McKay's mixed his A-List cast with some sharp camera work, a punchy soundtrack, and some snappy editing, to produce an end result that keeps a firm hold on the audience and, more importantly, keeps the laughs coming with great consistency. It may be around two hours long, but its zippy pace and humour means it never feels like it.

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8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
The Big Short is an unexpected treat. It doesn't have the sense of impending doom of other films on the same subject - it would, however, make a great double bill with 99 Homes - and the financial intricacies might be impenetrable at times, but this is a film with an impudent, knowing grin on its face, and it's almost impossible not to like it. Its nominations from BAFTA and the American Academy mean it could be a serious contender come next month's awards.

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I hope that this is as good as it I think it is.

Can't a fella drink in peace?
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