Remember your elementary history or math teacher, who used to try very hard to wrap up the lessons in such a way that you didn’t find out you were in imminent danger of learning things? The Big Short is actually the same thing, the only difference being your teacher most probably used to fail at every turn, or most of the turns but The Big Short didn’t. Well, your teacher might argue that the movie had Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling on its side, and you know…. it’s a movie, so…. yeah, point taken.
This movie is an adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, which, by the way, rated five stars on Goodreads by the Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown. The story is about the economic meltdown of 2007-08. To be more precise, how financially motivated aka greedy people, intellectually challenged aka dumb people and people puffed with vanity aka pompous people took the entire world economy down with them. As you can see the movie is based on most of the boring topics that exist on the subject: history (recent though), finance and freaking economics. But wait… This movie is anything but boring. Plainly put, the story revolves around some people who discovered the elements within subprime-mortgage bonds, which can only be compared with decaying human waste, and start betting against it and end up making billions of dollars.
But it is the characters and screenplay that makes it so interesting and entertaining. Even Michael Lewis was surprised to see how the story that was based on credit default swaps became such an amazingly exciting, dark comedy. You can read his article in Vanity Fair.
First Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) a hedge fund manager at Scion Capital, with one eye and an awkward social manner, finds out about the hidden truth behind those bonds and starts to “short” them, in other words bet against them. Word gets out and Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) hears about some crazy guy shorting mortgage bonds. So he approaches Michel Baum (Steve Carell), a righteous, short tempered and grief –stricken but brilliant investor and his team. When they find out that these bonds are just pieces of ‘decaying human waste’ wrapped in nothing but greedy, dumb and pompous people’s hollow guarantees, they shorted as well.
Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), a very cautious man, the kind of guy who is commonly referred to as survival nut, was a hot shot banker with lot of connections. He apparently left the banking sector with absolute disgust and revulsion, to pursue a peaceful, honest and green life. Ben is approached by two talented young investors, Jamie Shipley and Charlie Geller who also found out about the bonds and request his help them.
While watching the movie you might encounter a lot of strange terminology, but don’t worry. All of those terms will be explained properly. Now I know any kind of explanation means learning which is boring, but would it be boring if Selena Gomez, or famous chef Anthony Bourdain explained it?
So if you want to know, in the most entertaining manner possible, how Wall Street, the banks, rating agencies and government made you or some of your friends or relatives bankrupt: watch it!
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