One film I had the pleasure of viewing recently is The Big Short.
The Big Short stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, and many others as a bunch economists who predicted the housing market crash of 2007-2008. So to their benefit, each decides to bet large sums of money against the housing market and make millions of dollars. The film follows each of these characters separately, giving us a somewhat fictionalized interpretation of real people and events. The audience slowly sees our protagonists come to the realization of just how corrupt the system is.
We also have a narrator played by Ryan Gosling, who frequently talks directly to the audience. This outward acknowledgment of the audience is the something I really liked in this film. Even though things are very serious through most of the story, it still keeps a little humorous with Gosling. He says some pretty outrageous things and keeps the comic relief at an appropriate level.
The Big Short manages to take complex topics (like the housing bubble or CDO’s) and make them easy to understand for the average viewer. This is all done in a very comical way. The narrator will break the fourth wall, address the audience directly on how the topic is boring to explain, then cut to someone famous describing it. For example, at one point during the film the narrator cuts to chef Anthony Bourdain to explain some complex economic theory while cooking in the kitchen.
One of my favorite parts about The Big Short is its moral ambiguity. Our protagonists are betting to make a whole lot of money, yet at the expense of the American people. If the protagonists are correct, that would mean the loss of homes, retirement money, and savings accounts. And since they would be profiting off the loss of the American middle class, does that make them any better than the corrupt bankers? The Big Short really makes you think.
The film periodically edits in cuts of current pop culture. Little images or quick videos relevant to 2007. I think these are pretty unique and really help to set the tone for the film. These edits get a whole lot more effective when, towards the end of The Big Short, they show real footage of the recession that the housing market crash helped cause. We see many images of people now homeless, with their belongings tossed onto the street. Its all very emotional stuff.
Over everything, this is a film that made me feel. That is what I liked The Big Short as much as I did. It pissed me off knowing that the bankers didn’t receive any sort of punishment for their greed. It made me sad knowing the horrible results of the housing market crash. The Big Short moved me in a way unique to that of other flicks.
I recommend The Big Short to anyone who likes fictional interpretations of true events. I feel more enlightened on the topic of the recent U. S. recession, as well as even more empathetic towards those affected by it. The Big Short is a film that will make you think, feel, and care. Definitely go check it out.
The Verdict: A-