The Big Short

Director: Adam McKay

Release: 29.01.2016

Rating: 9/10

Text: Elinor Tessin

The global financial crisis was not all that long ago, but if you’re like me, you’ve already all but forgotten about it – or never really understood what happened in the first place. Honestly, phrases like “mortgage-based securities” and “collateralized debt obligations” seem to exist mostly to cause headaches and confusion, or maybe to talk someone to sleep. And now they’ve made a whole movie about them?

Wisely, “The Big Short” employed attractive people to keep you awake. These included the likes of Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and a few very unexpected cameos – just in case. But as the story of the financial crisis unfolds before your eyes, you might find yourself suddenly and strangely intrigued – like me. Who are these people that win and lose incomprehensibly large amounts of money from the comfort of their offices every day? How do they do it, and how did they manage to completely crash the economy without even noticing?

There is no one answer to these questions. Ryan Gosling hilariously portrays Jared Vennett as exactly the kind of sleazy and ruthless investment banker we can imagine wrecking a whole economy for profit. However, there’s also misunderstood financial genius Michael Burry (Christian Bale), righteously angry hedge-fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) and the endearingly enthusiastic young investors Geller and Shipley (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock), all of whom have their own reasons to get in on the game, as well as the occasional crisis of conscience.

Will you understand exactly what happened during the financial crisis by the end of this movie? Maybe, maybe not. Yet, as you will be told repeatedly whilst watching the disaster unfold, banks don’t exactly want you to understand what they’re doing, since you might not approve. So maybe it’s time to have a closer look – you could start by googling “collateralized debt obligations”.