Big shots in The Big Short

Hollywood banks on big shots for its latest comedy, in which four ordinary salarymen predict and profit from a massive economy collapse

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Trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling, right) hears of Burry’s scheme, and decides to put in his own stake for profit.

 

It’s the year 2005 and most of the world is blissfully unaware of the crippling financial crisis looming — except four denizens of the finance industry.

Eccentric hedge fund manager Michael Burry (played by The Dark Knight Rises’ Christian Bale) predicts that the credit and housing bubble will collapse in two years. Realising that he can profit as much as 500 per cent before the crisis, he hatches a bold but attractive investment opportunity for the greedy big banks.

Word of this opportunity spreads, and a group of other gentlemen recognise Burry’s scheme. Trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and retired banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) decide to also cash in on the impending collapse.

They may be laughing all the way to the bank but the four salarymen don’t realise that their large-scale fraud may very well make them the Four Horsemen of the economic Apocalypse.

 

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

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Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, an oddball ex-physician turned hedge fund manager with a scheme to hatch.

 

With such a sombre synopsis, it’s hard to believe that The Big Short is a comedy. The story so far sounds rather serious, especially when it’s laden with high-finance jargon and politics. But perhaps the four Hollywood big shots — Bale, Gosling, Carell and Pitt — might bring out the comedy in their eccentric characters.

Bale plays Burry, an oddball ex-physician turned hedge fund manager, who does business in shorts, bare feet and a retro mop haircut. It will be fun to watch this quirky guy pitch to the big guys, who believe that he is a crackpot.

Carell, star of side-splitting productions such as Evan Almighty and Anchorman 2, is a comedy kingpin and there’s much anticipation of his deadpan antics as frustrated idealist Baum.

Pitt’s appearance as burly retiree Rickert harks back to his comical roles in the Ocean’s (Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen) heist series. And Gosling, playing the least trustworthy character of the four, is mighty fine to look at.

Will The Big Short turn out to be similar to 2013 black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street, and bank in at the box office?
Or will it be a commercial collapse?

 

A LESSON IN FINANCE?

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Brad Pitt stars as retiree Ben Rickert, who slowly discovers that cashing in on Burry’s scheme may not be the best move to make.

 

If anything, The Big Short has proven to be a treat for those familiar with and / or passionate about the inner workings of the finance industry.

The Big Short was heralded by Bloomberg columnist Barry L Ritholtz for accurately portraying “the broad strokes of the crisis”. Furthermore, tickled by the film’s portrayal of big banks and small players, critics have praised it as a “scathingly-funny indictment of its real-life villains” on online review site Rotten Tomatoes.

For the layman, such as you and I, perhaps The Big Short can be likened to a hilarious lesson in finance and investment banking. You might even want to take a closer look at that “attractive investment opportunity” after this.

In any case, the four big shots of Bale, Carrell, Gosling and Pitt are more than worth catching The Big Short for.

 

By Pamela Chow

 

The Big Short [NC16]

Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling & Brad Pitt
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run Length: 130 min
Release: 21 Jan

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