The success of this film is that it manages to make the 2008 financial crisis compelling viewing. We are given an opportunity to see the motivation behind those responsible; to see them as real people, not merely faceless automatons in a numbers exercise. The slick voiceover comes from Jarret Vennet, Ryan Gosling doing his best “Wolfie” impression as a wheeler dealer working on Wall Street, far too cool for crunching the real numbers, in his own words he can “smell the money”. His character and story is paralleled perfectly by Christian Bale’s Dr. Michael Burry, an introverted numbers whizz, and the first to see that America is headed for a financial crash. Unfortunately, the film tries to simplify the banking crisis, at some points plummeting the depths of pure patronization. Celebrities are rolled out for small cut scenes in which they explain ‘complex’ banking terms to us, for example, Margot Robbie, staged in a bath, soothingly explains ’sub prime’ loans. I don’t claim to be an economic expert but the film is trying to be overtly smart and appealing with this gimmick, which if anything detracts from the serious message at its heart. Capitalism has a dark side; the government.
“Ryan Gosling doing his best “Wolfie” impression as a wheeler dealer working on Wall Street, far too cool for crunching the real numbers”
And, as every gambler knows, the banks always win while the everyday people are left homeless, jobless, and worse. The likable, yet loud, Michael Baum (Steve Carell) is the first character to realise the gravity of the situation, and the drastic consequences of the financial crisis. His disgust is played to perfection in a head to head with the chief of Bear stocks. Brad Pitt has a small but poignant role as an ex banker who got out of the game before it turned nasty and he accompanies Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) in their quest for the ‘American Dream’. But it comes at a price. A tale of skullduggery and sharp practice, this film should be praised for its creativity, watchability, the powerhouse cast and fast paced direction.