Four denizens of the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight. — IMDB

[make sure you read the update note below!]

THE BIG SHORT will not be for everyone. As it tells the story it has to try to convey complex financial topics to its audience making the movie very didactic. The writers have gone to rather bizarre and comedic lengths to get these concepts across to the viewers. For example, in one scene Margot Robbie, as herself, languishes in a bubble bath as she tells us all mortgage securities. At times, the actors speak directly to the audience — in movie talk it’s called breaking the fourth wall. Because the movie is so preachy a large amount of the time, and as a result, very dialogue driven, I didn’t find it very engaging. The acting is certainly good (especially Steve Carell). But I have seen better movies about the mid-2000s crash that were much more riveting than this — e.g., Margin Call and 99 Homes. So if you head to the cinema to see this one, be ready to have to concentrate hard on learning the large number concepts and to follow the rapid dialogue that forms the substance of the story. Otherwise, you might want to give it a miss.

UPDATE: I’ve just seen THE BIG SHORT for the second time and am upping my score to ****. This movie is very successful in communicating its key concepts and, for a dialogue-driven movie, there is an excellent feeling of suspense. If you reach similar conclusions me after seeing the movie once, perhaps give it another go. I really enjoyed it the second time around.

 (originally *** — see update note above)