The Big Short, based on the book by Michael Lewis, tells the story of the financial collapse that occurred in 2007-2008. This film sheds light on the 2005 American housing crisis, known to be a trigger for the 2007 collapse, through 3 separate sub-stories.
Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a socially awkward hedge fund manager, predicts that the housing market is extremely unstable because of subprime loans. In other words, people with loans that shouldn’t have them. Banks are comfortable giving these loans out because they are tied to a rocket-sized interest rate. Win-win, right?
Mark Baum (Steve Carrell), an angry hedge fund manager, is convinced that the American banks are trying to screw us all. He isn’t far off. Baum is mistakenly introduced to Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), a trader, and they team up in order to use credit default swaps (risky business) to their advantage. Time to make the big boys pay.
Fresh meat, Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), stumble on Vennett’s proposal while trying to become investors of their own. They reach out for guidance from Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), a former banker, and are all instantly thrown into the pool of people betting against the big banks. Everyone is tryin’ to get their slice of the housing mortgage crash.
Are you following? No? That’s okay — no one else was either. In fact, many people had no idea that this had even occurred until now. And I gotta give it to writers, directors, and cast. The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay, is now in the running for five (you heard me, five) Oscar nominations. Hey, getting people excited about watching a movie centered around the housing bubble is no easy feat. However, throw Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, and Ryan Gosling together and we have ourselves a party.
This film has a fantastic cast that is able to playfully portray a significant moment in American banking. I’m not gonna lie, going into this I was concerned. Banking isn’t sexy and banking is not what I want to be lectured about on a Friday night. Enter Margot Robbie drinking champagne in a bubble bath… As you may have guessed, she’s here to explain just what exactly a subprime loan is, and where it came from. These cameos are fantastic and make this daunting subject understandable and accessible to anyone.
Summary? Don’t pull out every economics book you bought in college to prepare for this movie. The Big Short is entertaining, alarming, and dare I say it – educational. Two thumbs up from this econ major.