Film Review: The Big Short

By Jamie Harris

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Released riding a wave of awards buzz, expectations were high for The Big Short. Did this comedy about the economic crash meet those expectations? Sort of…

 

The real reason for the success this film is having is the screenplay, which is being deservedly recognised. Somehow it has managed to find the humour in, what was for many, a tragic event.

 

The script manages to get laughs mainly out of how despicable most of the characters were, by following them cashing in on what they saw as an inevitable economic downturn. This is both a blessing and a curse though due to the fact that it can feel uncomfortable rooting for such a despicable bunch of people, especially when the script isn’t afraid of reminding you how wrong what they’re doing is by showing the impact on the general public.

 

One of the real joys of the screenplay though was how it didn’t get too bogged down in dull banking. When it had to throw in technical terms, there were some rather amusing cameos from the likes of Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain the lingo they had to use so audiences won’t get too lost.

 

The frenetic editing also adds energy to what could’ve been a rather dull and plodding story. Editing together cultural snippets from the times of the events set the tone, along with a soundtrack with some real throwback tunes! Energetic shots showing the hustle and bustle of New York contrast beautifully with the almost static shots of the meeting rooms which highlights the different predicaments for the central characters from the general public.

 

In terms of performances the two real stand-outs in the ensemble cast were Ryan Gosling, who was initially almost unrecognisable with dark hair and a very orange tan, and Christian Bale. Bale is very deserving of his Academy Award nomination considering that for most of his performance he is on his own sitting at a desk and for the fact that he managed to learn the drums for the role in only a couple of weeks.

 

It could have been a very different film with a different director. Adam McKay, who directed the likes of Anchorman 2, has managed to get every last ounce of humour out of what could otherwise have been a rather dull, po-faced drama. For this reason he should also get a lot of credit for how this film turned out.

 

In many ways The Big Short reminded me of Ocean’s Eleven given that we’re supposed to side with this (largely male oriented) group of people trying to make a money out of other peoples’ misfortune. It was funny but I also felt kind of guilty for laughing. Whether or not that’s a good thing, I’m still undecided. You’ll just have to make your own minds up about it.

 

3 OUT OF 5

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