Anatomy of Economic Language or How They Played Us: The Big Short
In The Big Short, Adam McKay talks about something as complicated as the 2007 financial crisis and does it in a fast-paced but accurate way.
In The Big Short, Adam McKay talks about the complicated topic of the 2007 financial crisis and does it in a fast-paced but accurate manner.
The story is quite simple. It’s about an intuition of Michael Burry (Christian Bale) – a fund manager with a glass eye affected by Asperger syndrome.
His intuition, a couple of years before the crisis, is that a market as strong as the house market wasn’t so stable after all. He decides to bet money against it so that he and his investors will profit from the financial crack. When everybody sees this as a crazy idea, “a few outsiders and weirdos saw what none else could”, and decide to invest in it. They are the Deutsche Bank trader Jared Vennet (Ryan Gosling), hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and his team, and a couple of young investors (Finn Wittrock and John Magaro), helped by Ben Rickert, a retired banker (Brad Pitt, who is also the producer of this movie).
The movie is based on the 2010 book The Big Short by investigative journalist Michael Lewis. Thanks to a very good screenplay, the story is engaging and built in such a way that we experience the same doubts and hesitations as the characters do on screen, although the 2007 crisis is recent history.
Dialogues are fast and whipping, thanks to McKay’s comedy background. Yet, the topic is tough and McKay develops his own language behind the camera.
Not only are the deeds of bankers who originated the crisis under attack, but also their awareness of what they were doing.
“Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do” says Jared Vennet.
So economical language, with its deliberately confusing terms, becomes the object of a deconstruction. With the help of a narrator, Jared, the audience gets funny elucidations, that take different shapes on screen.
The more the passage is difficult to understand, the more improbable and out of place are the people who explain it to you, like Selena Gomez gambling in a casino or Margo Robbie in a bubble bath.
The effect is that the whole thing is disclosed, exposed, and loses its scary aura of impenetrability.
At the same time, the things that truly matter have been there from the very first minute of the movie, frame after frame: people – ordinary people, who pay their loans and see their houses as a part of their life, their future. Those frames, that seem random, give us a bitter picture of those years, when everybody was clueless and vulnerable, so naïve.
Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock