4 stars

A snazzier, sexier version of 2011’s Margin Call, this movie tells the story of a cadre of off-the-wall Wall Street investors who come to understand, contrary to all other advice, just how fragile the USA’s housing market is just before the 2008 crash.

Christian Bale plays the oddest of these oddballs, an autistic savant fund manager who decides the time is ripe to short (i.e. bet against) the housing market. This is something so counter-intuitive at the time, he has to invent a way of doing it, though the big investment banks gladly take his money once they figure out what he is talking about.

To counter this inherent difficulty of the subject matter, the director employs some looney techniques keep you from snoozing whenever someone says the words “mortgage-backed securities”. Actor, Ryan Gosling, with an orangey tan and a douchebag wig, regularly breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience, as do celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Selena Gomez, who get plopped into the film rather randomly to explain various hard concepts with apt analogies.

It’s all just wacky enough to work, and work well.


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