The Big Short. A few individuals accurately predicted the 2007 economic collapse. This is their story. The film opens like a documentary film but soon, Adam McKay has celebrities explaining the machinations of Wall Street, a brilliant and effective open. Anthony Bourdain uses an analogy involving three day old fish. Selena Gomez at a Black Jack table explains a CDO (collateralized debt obligation) and it’s marvelously done. The first character we meet is Micheal Burry who notices the housing bubble and realizes that it will crash. Played by Christian Bale, he’s a neurologist turned hedge fund manager who, in 2005, correctly predicted that the bubble would burst during the second quarter of 2007. As Burry listens to heavy metal at full volume, he deciphers the signs and recognizes the economic fraud. Then investor Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), learns that Burry is creating a market to short the credit default swap investments. Vennett connects with Wall Street trader Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and it is at this point that the film takes off. Steve Carell deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Two young investors, Jamie Shipley (John Magaro) and Charlie Geller (Finn Wittrock) appear on the scene, find Vennett’s investment flyer, and bring on retired banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt). Rickert has the capital to short credit default swaps. It is Pitt’s character who delivers the lines which remind us that while these few individuals were making millions upon millions, across the nation millions more ordinary folk lost their jobs and their homes due to this massive Wall Street fraud.
The film is based on Michael Lewis’ book by the same name. This is the second time Pitt has successfully connected with a story by Lewis (the first was “Moneyball”). Adam McKay, co-wrote the screenplay and directed this masterpiece. He should receive Oscar nominations. I use the term “masterpiece” because while the movie translates very technical terminologies concerning Wall Street investment concepts and a plethora of technical terms, it never loses the audience. In fact, I predict you’ll be laughing — even as you learn about the full scope of the fraud. If only the reality of this history was as enjoyable as the 130 minute film. This is a must see film for anyone who wants an entertaining education as to why there was a 2007 crash.