The Big Short written by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, directed by Adam McKay (Plan B Entertainment, Regency Enterprises, R, 130 min)
Starring Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, and Brad Pitt.
Ode to the Housing Market
Let’s talk housing markets. In the glorious green belt known as the Pacific Northwest, a city named after one of the area’s most famous chief of its local Native American tribe faces prodigious housing growth.
My small family resides in North Seattle in a two-bedroom, 900 square foot lot. A big yard for our little one to explore counters what little we have in square footage.
Having spent years saving, my family finally has enough to buy. With a two-year-old, the desire to become rooted takes hold. The plan, since the first thought of home ownership emerged from the recesses of our collective mind, circled on property in the North Seattle neighborhood.
Unfortunately, the housing market these last couple of years feels like a freight train overweight, without brakes, descending a steep grade toward a sharp turn.
Money to the Money to the Money
In these last couple of years, our small house we’re renting went from cheap to out of our budget. If you really care for me digging to find the source, I would be glad to cite the research suggesting that more than half of the Seattle population doesn’t make enough money to afford home ownership within the city limits. We contribute to that statistic and our search now pushes us miles outside of the city.
Given the amount of space allocated in my mind toward the housing market, it probably wasn’t the greatest idea to watch the critically acclaimed The Big Short.
Inside the Doomsday Machine
Set around Wall Street in advance of the Great Recession, The Big Short outlines the handful of soothsayers who read the downturn in the tea leaves and bet big against the housing market in the mid-2000s.
The film starts with Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) blasting heavy metal and accounting for each loan in the bloated housing bonds bought and sold from bank to bank. Recognizing that these investments sit on a pile of sub-prime loans, he predicts a bubble and begins to spend extensively on shorting the market, much to the chagrin of his investors.
As bankers take his money, each firm begins to tell this ludicrous story around town, raising the suspicion of Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling). Even though he his paycheck comes from a bank, self-interest encourages him to look around and find partners, eventually landing with Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and his firm, FrontPoint.
Lastly, a small-time firm happens upon the scheme and seeks the help of Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), a former banker sick of the entire system.
Quick witted with depth of character, The Big Short smartly introduces some complicated banking terminology in a way that make the viewer almost feel like she’s watching a heist movie.
And yet, the complexity of the source material creates tense viewing. As you root for these underdogs to take advantage of these duplicitous banks, you, in turn, are rooting for the ruin of the global economy and the mourning for what’s to come when “too big to fail” enters the cultural lexicon and a more-of-the-same mentality returns to our financial system.
And therefore, it was a dumb mistake to watch this gloriously crafted film. As a soon-to-be homebuyer attempting to purchase at the height of the market, I fear the top-hatted fat cats at the end of the pile of paperwork won’t have my best interests in mind. My family can afford to buy a house, but if the market collapses at an inopportune time, who knows what will happen?
But that’s my problem. Go watch The Big Short. It’s a good film.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5