Adam McKay / Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling / Comedy / 2016 / 15 / 130mins
For a film with perhaps one of the least imaginative titles going, The Big Short sure does give you one hell of an introduction to the recent banking crisis.
I am the last guy on Earth who’s going to understand banks, economics and maths ( I think the statement “I did an English degree” explains all) but the way The Big Short enticed me so was because it was interesting. Most banking films nowadays are comedies because they are visual satires – an overt metaphor mocking the farcical system the global economy once employed. The Wolf of Wall Street mocked the 80s; The Big Short mocks the 00s. Wit pleases the critics, laughs please the fans, and money comes tumbling in for the studio – BOOM.
In an age of postmodern irony, The Big Short fits in rather snuggly. The obvious comparison, as previously noted, is The Wolf of Wall Street, except The Big Short is less funny and more intelligent. It’s unique, and a wonderful adaptation of the text, staying true to correct terminology and dialogue. I must say the editing is great: a meta-layered script, with use of pop culture and visual cues of footnotes, diagrams and whatnot making for a cinematic Tristram Shandy – utilising the visual, as well as the audible, to mock the market.
Christian Bale was Oscar nominated for his performance as Michael Burry. Yes, it’s outstanding, but Steve Carrell is at least on a par with him. Ryan Gosling goes all out too – a combination of Oscar-chasing-DiCaprio and pure Cagean revelry. He was probably the funniest, certainly the most quotable. Bale was simply the most serious out of the core actors: he plays a man with Asperger’s and learned drums so he could, in effect, play ‘air drums’ (oh, and one scene where he plays drums… one scene). My question is: why does the Academy shy away from comedy? Everyone knows they have a twisted sense of humour given that no black actors have been nominated for the second year in a row. So why can’t they appreciate some good irony? Probably because they all have besties on Wall Street – quick, call the conspiracy police.
I wouldn’t be surprised if The Big Short scraped an Oscar or two. Best Picture, Director and even Supporting Actor for Bale are all long shots, but editing and best adapted screenplay… who knows?
Financial mumbo-jumbo with fun, facts and lots of swearing.
Film as a Film – 4 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 3
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Copyright by Paramount, sourced via Wikipedia.