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That’s my kind of film! A bunch of ruthless financial managers, even the good ones good only to the extent that it would interfere with their bonuses and investment profits, ruthless lifestyle and self-indulgent behavior. With first class actors enjoying their excessive characters (Christian Bale, as usual over the top as thrash metal investment genius), breaking the fourth wall cuts (the Chinese Quant getting some facts straight to the camera), and complex financial market derivatives explained to the ignorant audience (like me) by scantly dressed ladies in bubble baths.

The script manages to make me feel entertained (not just, but also by by Selena Gomez’s cleavage illustrating how betting on other people’s bets create an avalanche of virtual money that causes real damage) and enlightened. It is akin to the Stephen Hawking effect: Even if in fact I am still ignorant, I feel that after watching this, I know what CDOs are and how they made the global financial markets fail. And to the extent that I still don’t, I don’t care, because the narrative focuses on some key developments (“The prices still don’t go down, and it’s the rating agencies fault!”), which are easy to swallow. You can read all the real life financial market references as a mere McGuffin to trigger the behavior of a certain bunch of people living in a parallel world of high finance, or you can skip back to the complex bids and have that thing about the bubble bath explained to you again. Just for the fun of it.

Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt are all giving their best, they make this breed of highly skilled and socially dysfunctional experts believable and scary. A more fun-oriented version of what Zachary Quinto and Jeremy Irons presented in “Margin Call”, and more substantial than Martin Scorsese’s depiction of the “Wolf of Wall Street”. Special Interest blockbuster at its best!

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