The Big Short (2015)
Hollywood has begun to tackle the financial crisis: The Big Short could act as a supplement to the previously released 99 Homes. Where 99 Homes showed us the personal tragedy of families affected by the real estate bubble, The Big Short aims to explain how it all came to be: the greed of investment banks and loan sharks, the lack of foresight and oversight, and the eventual collapse of the housing market and the world economy in 2008.
The attempt is noble and surprisingly funny if you enjoy a grim sense of humor. In the end, I definitely learned a thing or two about financial lingo and what’s behind it. But at times it is hard to follow, not the facts but the movie itself. There is a lot going on, and I mean, a lot: a documentary style camera, voiceover, breaking the fourth wall, lots of overlapping sounds, and last but not least, gimmicky celebrity cameos (Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain) explaining Wall Street terms by means of, I guess, “relatable” examples.
Indeed, in an effort to be as entertaining as a movie about the financial crisis can be, The Big Short wades into some pretty patronizing territory. While I appreciate the attempt at visualizing complex financial strategies, a hot blonde actress in a bubble bath is not going to help my understanding, unless the makers considered their potential audience to be stupid, or worse, only heterosexual men.
But if the goal was to get “the common man” interested in the financial crisis, then The Big Short may certainly succeed. That said, for all the outrage we are supposed to feel at the recklessness and cunning of the bankers, we see surprisingly little of the millions of people who lost their jobs and homes as a result.