The Big Short, film review: ‘Why couldn’t Wolf of Wall Street do this?’

10:37 22 January 2016

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in The Big Short. Picture: Jaap Buitendijk/Parmount Pictures

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in The Big Short. Picture: Jaap Buitendijk/Parmount Pictures

© 2015 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Adam McKay’s examination of the US housing market crash is smart, entertaining and doesn’t pull its punches, says Michael Joyce.

Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Rafe Spall
Film Length: 130 mins

Bowie, Rickman and Lemmy dead, horrendous flooding, terrorism: the turn of the year hasn’t been a period brimming with optimism. Now, just as a few lone voices are predicting that the economy will crash this year, comes a film about a few lone voices who realised that the American housing market was about to crash in 2007 and how no lessons have been learned and nothing has changed. And a Happy New Year to you too!

At this time of year many gongs are given out to films that are supposedly about something, but are really just about being about something; conventional strolls down traditional narrative paths that just happen to take in some unusual backdrops. The Big Short really takes on its subject: it is a root and branch analysis of what went wrong, how the seed was planted in the ‘70s, how it was allowed to grow and fester and how everybody failed, or refused to notice. It even explains subprime mortgages, CDOs and AAA ratings.

At this point it needs to be pointed out that The Big Short is also wonderfully entertaining. Horrifying, enraging, depressing but still enormous fun. The film that keeps springing to mind while watching it is The Wolf of Wall Street. The two address the same topic, have a similar confidence and swagger but DiCaprio’s film spends its bloated running time ignoring the issue it professes to address, glorifying the people it seeks to condemn while frittering away its three hours in an epic rerun of Animal House. It’s a classic example of popular culture acting as a piece of misdirection for big business. The Big Short should leave The Wolf whimpering sheepishly in the corner with embarrassment.

It’s a brilliant film, but there is no good in it.

Our four heroes spot injustice, and immediately set about working out how they can profit from it. No arcs reach redemption during its running time. There are no sympathetic characters, nobody to root for, and no uplifting endings. Its pleasures lie in being treated like a grown up and being told something straight.

Rating: 5/5 stars

For longer reviews and a look at the DVD release of life on death row documentary The Fear Of 13, visit halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

12:00
Cartoonist Kipper Williams

The Guardian and The Spectator cartoonist, Kipper Williams, attempts to make light of the looming EU referendum with a new book of satirical drawings on Europe, bureaucracy and Boris Johnson, he tells Imogen Blake.

34 minutes ago
Hornsey spinner Johnny Fawcett (left) exchanges high fives with Sam Solia

Hornsey spinner Johnny Fawcett blew away the Indian Gymkhana batting with the division’s first six-wicket haul of the season to put his side top of the Division Two table.

The cast of the Australian soap opera Neighbours

London is the second friendliest place to live in the UK according to a survey, despite its unwelcoming reputation.

08:00
The cast of A View From Islington North outside Parliament

Ever since Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader last year on a bigger mandate than even Tony Blair, there has been talk of a coup to oust him.

12:28
Chris Arul hit a century for Highgate in their win over Wembley

Highgate opener Chris Arul clobbered the Wembley bowling with a century to set up his side’s first Division Two victory of the season.

Yesterday, 17:41
Tributes have been paid to actor Burt Kwouk

Tributes have been paid to renowned Hampstead actor Burt Kwouk, famous for his role in the Pink Panther films.

Yesterday, 17:15
Tom Franklin, former chair of the Camden Green Party, pictured with Sian Berry and other supporters outside court

Eight protesters cleared of any wrongdoing for their part in an arms fair protest will not face a retrial after a judge refused an appeal lodged by the Crown.

Yesterday, 17:00
Mark Maier. Picture: Steve Best

“Anti-Semitism is all the rage”, quips Jewish comedian Mark Maier.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe