Film Notes – The Big Short (2015)


This movie is basically a dramatised version of the Global Financial Crisis for Dummies with a bail-out package of comic relief thrown in to make sure you don’t fall asleep. After all, lets face it, economics and finance affect every facet of our lives yet it manages to bore the average person senseless. And so we distract ourselves with pop culture while at the very same time allowing the Wolves on Wall Street to run wild in the chicken coop.

Considering our penchant for pop culture, Adam McKay has found the perfect mechanism for delivering his didactic payload; a comedy-laced popular farce underpinned by a morality play with a big message. And I actually feel like I really did learn a thing or two in the process. Needless to say, thank god Margot Robbie was on hand to explain the GFC to me while she reclined naked in a bubble bath. Especially as she and her cronies had me hella-confused in that roller-coaster ride of debauchery that was known as The Wolf of Wall Street.

Mr McKay sprinkles other similar expository interludes, juxtaposed with odd scenarios, throughout the film for our edification. Normally it would be insulting when main characters feel the need to explicitly explain fundamental concepts to one another as though each of them had barely graduated high-school but in this case I was kind of grateful. It went a long way to helping me understand what the fuck was going on, otherwise I would have been completely lost. This is as close as your are going to get to an economics lecture while being thoroughly entertained at the same time. An oxymoron, I know.

And who would have known that the GFC could be so funny. That is until its wasn’t. There is a serious message interwoven through all this hi-jinx. The laughs are only there to sweeten the bitter pill that we cannot trust our money with the crooks and morons in power. It is an expose but also a call to arms to say, “Hey, this stuff is confusing because Wall Street profit off the mystique and the fact that you won’t question it but ultimately you have just as much responsibility as those in power to get off your arse and do something about it.”. Or something like that, I am confused again. Where’s Margot Robbie?

Part of the reason this film works so well is because of the performances from the rather large ensemble cast. Christian Bale completely owns the character of the stammering, number junkie, metal head, shoe-less, eccentric dork, who one would assume is on the Asperger’s end of the autism scale. Steve Carell is also good as the bullshit bloodhound, borderline personality, ethical banking practices crusader who is out to crush the corrupt crooks of industry and government (while questioning his own role while profiting from the whole mess). The rest of the cast are great too, along with their hair. Did hair really look like that a decade ago? I have already forgotten.

By the end of the film I felt like I had just watched a horror film. The GFC caused so much devastation. So, while I sit here and brace myself for GFC II, I am going to jump online and buy short on some bespoke water securities while I binge watch episodes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones on my big flat screen TV and eat ice cream.


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