The thing about most scams is that the scammers usually get away with it (well some might land up in jail after making tonnes of money). Its the people they have conned that suffer – and these people are everyday people like you and me. This is exactly what happen during the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Banks, investors, funds managers, and people remotely connected to the financial world – all made money. Except the people on whose name the mortgages were on.
What is it about
The Big Short based on a book by Michael Lewis (The blind side, Moneyball fame), is a good movie – its not great and I will tell you why in a bit. But lets start with the good stuff. It has big names who acted pretty well – Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale. The characters they portrayed are all real people and that’s what made it interesting. Christian Bale is Dr. Michael Burry, the man who predicted it all. As early as 2005, he knew the Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), the instruments with which bankers were making shit loads of money already, were made even more lucrative with sub-prime mortgages filled in them. His prediction and solution to make money for his investors is one story.
The other parallel story is of Steve Carell – again a fund manager working for Morgon Stanley. He is angry and by moving back and forth during the movie they tell you why. His story is about his dilemma – of looking for a loophole in the system but hoping against hope that there is no fraud.
The third parallel story is about 2 new fund managers, kids in the big bad world of finance, who have made good money already by picking the right stocks for their investors but chance upon the sub-prime crisis pretty early on and take the help of Brad Pitt to short the MBS.
The street-smart, suave Ryan Gosling is the one who kind of stitches all three parallel stories together in his own cool ways. He is in it to make money as well but not at the forefront.
Why it didn’t work (for me)
It’s a complex plot, people with no understanding of the sub-prime crisis will find it really difficult to follow this movie and that is why Adam McKay, the director has tried to provide bite sized finance lessons with the help of famous people like Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, Selena Gomez etc. But I don’t think it will help people who just want easy movies where you don’t have to follow each and every dialogue.
That’s where the movie lost out for me. The big short is convoluted, its difficult to follow because it keeps zipping through multiple stories and characters (I personally like this style but for such an intricate movie, this didn’t work). Though all the actors have done their bits well, it feels almost clinical – it didn’t bring out the emotions that it should have – the grossness of it all, the pathetic situation of people like you and me or anger that not many people who were responsible for the crisis went to prison.
Maybe that’s what the movie is about, the smugness of all the people who did what they did by cheating normal people and didn’t give a damn about people who lost their houses and jobs.
Why you should still watch it
Watch it to understand a bit about the crisis – after all its part of history, something that happened and affected millions of people around the world. Also watch it for Steve Carell. I usually don’t like his antiques and comic sense, but he has done a brilliant job in this one – his shock of finding it all out, perplexity of what one should do in position of power and his really emotional outburst is a joy to watch. I forgive him for all the crappy movies he ever did. 🙂
I give The Big Short a C+. Did you think it was better than what I thought of it?