I have no interest in wall street and finance, nor do I have any investment in the 2008’s economy collapse. If I didn’t accidentally came across the trailer of this movie on HBO and discovering the nominations it was awarded (including Oscar’s Best Picture), I wouldn’t give this movie a second thought. Then again, the casts seems interesting even if none of them particularly caught my eyes, and Life unfortunately wasn’t available for me to watch in cinema anymore.
Everyone knew about the financial crisis in 2007-2008. But there were few who knew about it way before it happens: An eccentric hedge fund manager (Christian Bale), an egoistical trader (Ryan Gosling), an angry-at-the-world hedge fund manager (Steve Carell), and two hopeful young investors (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock).
This is the story of their discovery, and what they do with it leading up to the meltdown.
It’s been quite some time since I was this uninvested with a movie. Even Negeri Van Oranje, with all its shortcoming, at least sparked some negative emotions inside of me and could get me to rant for minutes about it. The Big Short, on the other hand, was the kind of movie that I’d forget within days. I found nothing memorable from this movie besides the cameos, soundtrack, and Christian Bale’s acting. And Margot Robbie in a bubble bath because who the fuck could get that out of their mind?
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay admittedly wrote a compelling narrative. They managed to present a complicated finance tale in a way that someone as ignorant as me could understand, and they made it fun to watch. I appreciate their jibes and dialogue exchanges, their stupidly interesting way of explaining “sophisticated terms”, and most importantly the ever-changing vibe as our four protagonists shared their parts of the story. Unfortunately, those were not enough for me to feel invested. Neither the story nor the characters were particularly striking that I relate to them or root for them. While I do get that this is not the kind of story where you found something wrong in the system and work to fix it, it isn’t cynical enough to be the “found a weakness and profit from it” kind of story. It started out like that, but it lost its way as the story unfold. I mean, sure, the collapse of global economy may be an eligible reason to grow some morality and change a greedy cynics to a dejected realist. But merely talking about people possibly losing their home and showing an innocent bystander get caught in the crossfire wasn’t enough to convince an apathetic like me.
I’m not saying that those household names failed to deliver the people they represents. It’s just that they don’t have enough time to explore and fully develop their characters. They merely shows most distinctive traits of each characters and while it was enough to gave me a rough understanding of each of them, it was still far too distant for me to relate with. Yes, Michael Burry was a socially awkward genius with one glass eye but a tiny bit of sympathy was the only thing I could extend to him. And Mark Baum, who started out strong as an angry skeptic, fell short when he suddenly had an epiphany that felt like it was too conveniently placed. Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley’s turns of stance from being happy about the prospect of being rich to worrying about their loved ones had too little elaboration. Ben Rickert remains abstract with unexplained motivation from the beginning to the end. But most importantly, and it was such a shame, that Jared Vennet’s greedy trader persona wasn’t being exposed enough despite having the potential to be that cunning guy you despise but begrudgingly admire.
Christian Bale’s performance was worthy of his Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor, but I can’t help wonder if it was done merely because he portrayed an oscar-bait character simply because he have Asperger’s syndrome and a prosthetic eye. Bale’s portrayal was realistic and wonderful to some extent, but it’s not goosebumps inducing like, say, Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing. Steve Carell’s Mark Baum, on the other hand, was easily the most memorable performance in the whole movie. I do have tendencies to gravitate towards outspoken and temperamental character, but the level of anger that Carell showcased was one that I gladly revel with. Such a shame that the turn around was as grand as it should be. Ryan Gosling’s Jared Vennet, along with John Magaro’s Charlie Geller, Finn Wittrock’s Jamie Shipley and Brad Pitt’s Ben Rickert, were not the kind that would leave any lasting impression. It’s Jeremy Strong’s Vinny Daniel and Hamish Linklater’s Porter Collins that I was more interested in. Although, as with the case of other characters in this movie, they barely have any screen to be more than just two dimensional characters.
So was The Big Short interesting? It was, and educational to boot. But it’s not that fresh, and it’s much too fragmented to be either plot driven or character driven. I had trouble wrapping my mind around the reason why this movie was nominated for Best Picture, but I suppose, to each his own. For me, though, there was nothing memorable except for the top notch soundtrack thanks to Burry’s music taste and Margot Robbie in a bubble bath.
Also Karen Gillan’s short stint. I don’t hate it, I just found no reason to feel any emotional attachment to it.
Director: Adam McKay. Writers: Charles Randolph & Adam McKay. Released on: 13 January 2016 (Indonesia). Casts: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock.