The Big Short

by | Dec 10, 2015 | 0 comments

A Complex Subject Handled Beautifully by A Transitioning Director

Wall Street is a tough subject to take on in Hollywood. When we think of movies about the financial market we are reminded of great films like The Wolf of Wall Street or Wall Street (whoever creates the titles is not very creative). But the thing is, if you try and look harder, you won’t find many other movies on the subject. Most studios are afraid because Wall Street seems like too complex a matter to be broken down into a simple plot for the audience. Specifically of the 2008 financial crisis, the only memorable screen adaptation has been the fabulous 2010 documentary Inside Job, however this year’s The Big Short might be the second.

The Big Short is the true story of how a variety of different people found out that the mortgage market was going to crash in 2007, and eventually bring about an international economic crisis. These include the medical doctor turned stock analyst, Michael Burry (Christian Bale), the rude, but 100% honest Mark Baum (Steve Carrel), a witty Deutsche Bank official, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), and two newbies who started a hedge fund in a garage, Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Geller (John Magaro). The film looks at our characters’ dealings with not only the financial market, but also the impact their jobs have on their families.

The great leadership that you can feel in the film is the credit of two people: Michael Lewis (who wrote the book the film is based on) and Adam McKay, the director. On this last one I was incredibly surprised. McKay is known for having his résumé full of light comedies (both Anchorman movies, The Other Guys, Step Brothers, etc), and he pops his dramatic genre cherry by choosing an incredibly complicated aspect, but he does succeed. McKay does achieve a nice balance; he generally wants the audience to be having a good time, but he also has the veteran from Wall Street Ben Rickert (played by Brad Pitt) show us the true seriousness of the subject at hand. One of the aspects that was key for this film to work was its simplicity; it needed to have a way that it could explain the plot to the general audience; how Wall Street and the decisions being made in the story worked. In order to achieve this McKay has our main characters frequently turn to the camera and break the fourth wall, they clarify definitions (and just in case the definitions are typed up on the screen), and he also uses various examples and metaphors. Another method that McKay used to explain the inner workings of his story was to have several surprising cameos of celebrities playing themselves and explaining the situation, it adds to a sort of intimacy and actually keeps your attention on the screen. However, I kept getting the feeling that McKay was afraid that his audience’s attention might wane; he throws up many distractions on the screen, and sometimes even cuts off his characters before they fully complete their sentences. Now this does add to the snappy mood of the film, but it also takes away breathing room and time to digest information, because of that I ended up getting lost with the logistics.

The cast in this film was great. The thing that was surprising was that it had everyone in a supporting role; no one was taking the entire spotlight. This distribution choice also benefits the lesser-known actors, who are able to get as much, or even more screen time than say Brad Pitt or Christian Bale. It’s a good choice because it adds to the balance between celebrity actors and those trying to break out, and the choice does pay off as well, as everyone from the top billed to the extras does a great job.

So in the end a great amount of the credit for this extremely enjoyable film has to go to McKay, he brings together a complicated subject and he doles it out with a very well managed cast. And while I didn’t really understand every single aspect of the story 100%, it was so well made that I would gladly go see it again.








What is your favorite Wall Street film? Let me know in the comments section.

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