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THE BIG SHORT (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner,
Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt
Screenplay by Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
Based on The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Directed by Adam McKay
Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling,
Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro,
 Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock,
Stanley Wong, Byron Mann, Tracy Letts, Karen Gillan,
Max Greenfield, Anthony Bourdain, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez

It’s hard to articulate the complexity of The Big Short and how it’s presented, so I’ll start by saying, this film was simply excellent.

The Big Short follows the discovery of the imminent implosion of the housing market leading to the economic collapse in 2008.

I was curious about directorial choice of Adam McKay—how would the Anchorman director deliver the serious nature of Michael Lewis’ bestselling book? 

But with this complicated and somewhat disturbing subject matter, McKay manages to create a simultaneously exhilarating, yet depressing, and occasionally satirical story, featuring the brutality of the fraudulent nature of the big banks and housing market.

The film feels like a derivative of  The Wolf of Wall Street and Too Big to Fail combined. The director’s stylistic approach oscillates between tense and comedic, and that juxtaposition aids in moving the 130-minute movie along at a decent pace.

Adam McKay makes the film accessible by using sporadic interruptions by celebrities, who break down the technical jargon and complex content.This adds an incredibly humorous element to the movie – a necessary requirement, as the subject matter is so dumb-founding. The end result is a fast paced, emotionally charged story that successfully conveys the greed and corruption of Wall Street.

The all-star cast performed excellently.

Ryan Gosling, portraying the quick talking, ready-for-the-money, Jared Vennett, has great timing and narrates the story with wonderfully sarcastic inflection. Christian Bale, as hedge-fund manager Michael Burry, flourishes in his awkwardity, donning baggy t-shirts and no shoes. And Brad Pitt, while his role is appropriately subtle, is entertaining. No character felt superfluous.

Each “side-kick” type of role is strong and truly supportive to the main characters. But, Steve Carell’s award-worthy performance takes the cake. The actor deserves tremendous applause for his role as Mark Baum. He manages to enact the emotional turmoil of knowing how bad things are about to get for the economy. Equal parts of helpless despair and revolting anger are incredibly poignant. Who would have thought that dimwitted Michael Scott would become seething and frustrated Mark Baum?

I left the theater in an entertained and contemplative state. My thoughts were busy yet hard to consolidate so I’ll conclude by circling back to my opening statement.  

The Big Short was simply excellent.

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