in 2015, we have already seen another film about the housing crisis here in America – 99 Homes – told completely from the point of view of the homeowners. “The Big Short” tells that exact same story from the point of view of the finance/bankers whose greed and selfishness placed millions of Americans in unaffordable sub-prime loans.
With this famous quote posted at the start of the film…you know you are about to go on a wild ride where seat belts are definitely in order.
The year was 2006 and I purchased a condo. I should’ve known something was up when my own real-estate agent didn’t make herself available to be in the room with me and the notary to sign the loan papers. Nor should I have been surprised when I was told that there were two loans on the same day instead of one making my grand monthly total somewhere in the area of $4000 a month. Could I afford this – HELL NO!
Like so many Americans, I got suckered into the American dream of owning my own home. By 2008, the market crashed and I was stuck in sub-prime loan with an adjustable rate. What does that mean? It means that if the housing market rates are bad, my mortgage payment stays low. However, if the rates escalate…then so does my mortgage payment.
Needless to say, I scurried to get a modification only to be denied for nearly three years until Obama took office and incorporated HARP and HAMP. Why is ANY of this relevant to this review? It is relevant because my story isn’t unique. There were millions of homeowners with this identical lament. Millions of homeowners lost their homes, lived in hotels or on the street. I was one of the lucky ones.
“The Big Short” focuses on four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s and decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.
Aside from watching this whole mess unfold, we learn a plethora of terms like:
CDO – A Collateralized Debt Obligation is a type of structured asset-backed security. Originally developed for the corporate debt markets, over time CDOs evolved to encompass the mortgage and mortgage-backed security markets.
Tranche – A piece, portion or slice of a deal or structured financing. This portion is one of several related securities that are offered at the same time but have different risks, rewards and/or maturities.
Synthetic CDO -A Synthetic CDO (collateralized debt obligation) is a variation of a CDO that generally uses credit default swaps and other derivatives to obtain its investment goals.
Christian Bale (Michael Burry) is a madman, but it works brilliantly for this character. It just proves the old adage that most highly intelligent individuals sometimes don’t possess common sense. Michael Burry is a doctor and a genius. A genius that saw the crash coming before it hit and figured out how to cash in on it.
Steve Carell (Mark Baum) plays eccentric to the hilt with massive success. Baum is all about that dollar, but money can’t fill the emptiness in his seemingly very busy life. Carell (in my opinion) was robbed last year for “Foxcatcher”. Maybe he will finally get some acknowledgement for the carefully crafted character work in this flick.
Can I just say that Brad Pitt is a beast!!! Not only did he produce this bad boy, but it’s evident that his acting chops are very well in tact. It’s always a pleasure to see him do his thing.
Ryan Gosling (Jarred Vennett) is the shark in the water looking for blood by any means necessary. This role is a bit of departure for Gosling. We are usually rooting for him to win…not in this film. He is so despicable and unlikeable that the last thing you want him to do is get away with it.
Gosling does most of the to-camera sequences, but he gets a little help from some celebrity cameos. Yes, Margot Robbie sips champagne in a bubble bath while explaining to the viewer how credit default swaps work. It’s a brilliant and biting observation on what it takes to get through to people in an era where attention spans are very short
Ultimately, this is Director Adam McKay’s show and his contempt for how the whole mess got so out of control informs every facet of this self-aware and often hilarious flick.
The Big Short is in theaters NOW and if you want to check out my review on 99 Homes – CLICK HERE FOR 99 HOMES REVIEW