5 Academy Award nominations and only one of those I see worthy, this comedy drama about the tumbling financial crisis in America seems to gloat with it’s overblown characters, in your face directing and Family Guy-esque cutaways. Saying all that there is some room for this film to succeed with some funny moments, an interesting summary by the end of the movie and the pacy nature involved.
The year is 2005 and Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is one of the first people to notice that the build up of the American housing market is very dodgy indeed. His quick thinking catches on with Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) who ends up working with Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and his team in tackling this impending disaster.
I don’t know how to really go into the depth of this movie because it’s so bloated with insane blabber about the housing markets, banks, mortgages and the like that even if you know a little about what happened in 2008, you lose track of the dialogue because it’s stuffed to the rafters with technical babble meaning you can’t fully grip most of what’s going on. That could just be me, yes but I do feel that it could have been simplified instead of targeting Wall Street fat-cats but sounding exactly like one.
One of the main issues I found with this film is that it’s dealing with a very serious issue, not just within the States but something that affected countries over the world also. This story is something that suits a documentary style and though there are shaky camera shots and almost interviews with the characters as they break the fourth wall, it all feels like the movie is glossing over the seriousness with smug loudness. It would have been more understandable and perhaps more interesting if it was a documentary feature instead.
The only point where I really sat up and liked the film was in the last 15-20 minutes. This is where the heart-breaking reality of what has happened hits not just the characters we’ve heard but the huge population too. In fact the closing facts on the black screen give the most weight because it suddenly feels real and not like a cheesy montage of sound-bites and arrogant personas. 8 million just in America lost their jobs and as we see investors Charlie and Jamie step onto the empty Lehman Brothers trading floor, the movie finally feels tragic and echoes the greedy reality of what happened not long ago.
Adam McKay of comedy directing takes on this biographical movie as if he wants to show-boat a new sense of style. To be honest, this constant cutting back and forth and interspersing of stock footage becomes tired and more like a gimmick as it goes on. He does some interesting things in having a few characters look at the camera and spiel off some facts but that also gets stretched out as does the swiping to celebrities to try and explain financial facts to us. I don’t understand why he’s up for an award because it’s not original, it screams like a ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ copy but without the Scorsese class to be engaging.
Overall the characters seem to get lost in the language and chaos of time moving forwards. It does feel like at any moment Ron Burgundy will walk in and make light of the situation with a quotable retort and flute solo. It’s not an awful film just one that seems to me to be getting attention because it’s an American tale about Americans being smart and trying to save the day. Even Margot Robbie in a bubblebath cannot distract me from seeing how baffling and shallow the film comes across. It’s a shame because even though I wasn’t expecting to like it I thought I’d find it interesting but that only happened at the end.
Steve Carell for me stands out with the most development, his morals becoming clearer and his emotion making one character feel 3-dimensional amongst the sprawling ensemble involved. Christian Bale is good as he is in most things but the only interest is because he has a glass eye and doesn’t wear shoes, aside from that and his good hearted side I don’t see why Bale is up for Supporting Actor. Ryan Gosling smirks and preens his way along in a fun smarmy role, helped by a thick coating of fake tan he stands out as the Jordan Belfort figure. Brad Pitt seems to be left dangling with no true intentions of why he’s aiding the investors and risking his wanted safe life and seeds. It’s not anything challenging for him lets say. I may have to award the film something extra for the joyful surprise of Karen Gillan being in it, though her tiny part adds nothing at all. Then you have talented performers Rafe Spall, Finn Wittrock, Marisa Tomei, Max Greenfield and um…Selena Gomez providing more confusion as we try to grasp more characters.
It’s a movie that feels tonally absurd, vaulting from comedic arrogance to serious truth without notice. ‘The Big Short’ is certainly zippy and sharp in places but aside from noticeably great editing, the film feels like another injustice to the ordinary folk that were dealt with blows by the bankers this movie is trying to blame.