The Big Short

Directed by: Adam McKay

Written by: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay (screenplay), Michael Lewis (book)

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong

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Had it been directed by Bennett Miller, The Big Short could have been a subtle, restrained procedural drama. Instead, it’s a confused clusterfuck of cinematic tropes piled atop a good yarn.

There are fine performances, notably from Bale and an almost unrecognisably world-weary Pitt, and smaller players Spall and Strong; yet half-hearted attempts at backstory and patchy character development constitute an admission that the screenwriters couldn’t juggle so many characters. Bale’s character, though entertaining, is a clichéd eccentric, and Gosling’s narrator is infuriating, lording over the assumed audience with economic explanations that are somehow both patronising and poorly thought-out.

Though boldly stylised with, for instance, a winking Margot Robbie cameo, The Big Short fails to deliver a consistent moral standpoint, and ironically falls into the kind of cheap hypocrisy of some of its characters.