A serious subject for sure - the origins and effects of the worldwide financial crash of 2008 (though here only from the American angle) - and very much a high-powered 'yakety-yak' film, i.e. virtually 100% of the 'action' being verbal. It's expected to pick up a sheaf of awards in the upcoming ceremonies and I think it might deserve at least something.
If you see this film referred to as a 'comedy' - and there certainly are some amusing asides and one-liners - don't let that sidetrack you from its having a dark tone which points up the fragility and vulnerability of claims of economic stability.
I can't help making comparisons with another financial 'talkie' film, 'Glengarry Glen Ross' of 1994 (significantly extended for the screen from the original stage play) which fizzed along at great pace, always involving, managing to keep me engrossed all the way through and leaving me practically out of breath by the close. 'The Big Short' didn't quite make it to that standard but there is a roughly equivalent high level of testosterone-fuelled energy. Of course, this new film is about money dealings on a national and international scale, whereas 'G.G.R.' was completely localised within one commercial firm.
I'm afraid the technicalities of all these financial transactions didn't take longer than a few minutes to completely lose me. But what do I know? I was an accountant for only 25 years! However, the terminology is American-speak, so words and phrases particular to that country will probably be called something else in Britain. Even so, I can't say that even if I'd known the terms it would have been much clearer to me.
There are some big names in the cast. Christian Bale, whose own story (a wise-brain who foresees the inevitable sorry outcome) is somewhat set apart from the hustle and bustle of the centrally depicted, over-heated arguments. I gather that the questionable issue is something akin to pyramid selling, though with home mortgages as the building bricks. It's only a matter of time before individuals and financial institutions become aware of what's going on, and general nervousness spreads like a forest fire before the whole caboodle gets incinerated.
Then in the central roles there's Steve Carrell, (very ably once again playing serious after his impressive 'Foxcatcher'), Ryan Gosling, Rafe Spall - and Brad Pitt (who's also one of the executive producers) in a slightly more marginal part.
There's quite a bit of talking to camera by various cast members which works rather effectively.
The few women taking their short turns on screen are peripheral figures, nearly all seen just once and then gone.
There are very few scenes longer than two minutes. In fact much of the film looks like a pop video - fleeting images that hardly have time to register. It's all busy-busy-busy, never less than interesting, notwithstanding the fact that I was lost from the discussions for much of the time.
However, the conclusion, of which we all know, carries a terrific punch - namely showing how those responsible for this folly were baled out by the government (as also happened in the U.K.), whose largesse they could use to financially further reward themselves for their 'success' in escaping justice and avoiding gaol, while those who suffered most by losing jobs and homes, were the poorest and most vulnerable. And at the close there's the warning that it's all bound to happen again. In fact the seeds of a repeat scenario are sprouting again right now.
Adam McKay (director of the two 'Anchorman' films) manages this film capably in very flashy style, which befits the Las Vegas gambling milieu it parallels.
I have a feeling that my opinion of this may well rise in time. I can't say for sure, whereas for 'Glengarry' I knew it was a superior film from the first time I saw it, and having seen it several times since, it doesn't pall.
If I give that '94 film an '8', then my rating for 'The Big Short' is.......................6.5.
43 minutes ago