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
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.