Films about financial markets inevitably have the same problem. It’s just not that visually appealing to see people staring at their computers or phones and muttering expletives. Adam McKays The big short one managed to avoid the pitfall thanks to truly memorable characters and such stylistic feats as having Margot Robbie explain complicated financial concepts directly to the camera while lounging in a bathtub.
Craig Gillespies Stupid Money, about the 2021 GameStop stock phenomenon fueled by individual investors driven by social media, isn’t proving all that successful. Nevertheless, the film, which has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, proves entertaining enough, thanks to the clever screenplay that tells the story as a Frank Capra-style battle between the little people and the rich bigwigs, lifted by their own petards, and the fun performances by a great ensemble.
It comes down to
Smart filmmaking, as far as it goes.
Based on the book by Ben Mezrich The antisocial network (fun fact: the film’s producers include Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who you’ll remember The social network), Stupid money centers on Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a small-time financial analyst who accelerated events with his YouTube videos as “Roaring Kitty” and his Reddit posts under the username “DeepFuckingValue” touting GameStop stock. The idea seemed completely counterintuitive, considering the video game retailer was losing money overnight and its rapidly declining shares had been shorted by numerous hedge funds, including Melvin Capital head Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen, playing somewhat against type).
Gill’s enthusiastic acclaim for the stock struck a chord with small investors, who poured so much money into it that the price began to rise dramatically. Very dramatically, with Gill’s initial investment of $53,000, which represented the bulk of his savings, quickly escalating to $11 million. And it didn’t stop there: each rising valuation of GameStop stock resulted in joy among the new investors and serious unrest among financial titans like Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio), Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) and Vlad Temev (Sebastian Stan ), whose trading app Robinhood played a crucial role.
The film shifts its focus to: Gill and his family, including his supportive wife (Shailene Woodley), underachieving brother (Pete Davidson, who gets a lot of laughs) and completely confused parents (Kate Burton, Clancy Brown); the rich guys of Wall Street who view the rapidly changing developments with disbelief and horror; and a number of small investors riding the wave, desperately trying to figure out if and when to sell. The final group consists of a single nurse (America Ferrera) who is struggling financially, a pair of students (Myha’la Herrol, Talia Ryder) who are in debt, and a GameStop retail worker (Anthony Ramos) who still always believes in the product.
It’s a complicated story, much of it told clearly – if inevitably simplified – with the filmmaker doing his best to enliven proceedings with stylistic devices such as on-screen graphics detailing the net worth of the main characters (some investors are in the negative range). He also makes ample use of television news clips with recognizable faces such as Jim Cramer and Andrew Ross Sorkin, as well as Stephen Colbert who speaks about the phenomenon in his own inimitable style. When Gill and the hedge fund billionaires are forced to testify before Congress (remotely, as the film’s events take place during the height of the COVID crisis), we see real-life politicians like Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the meet actors. .
One of the film’s problems is that, with the exception of Gill and his brother, whose combative but loving relationship is amusingly depicted, the film’s characters remain largely one-dimensional, reacting with joy or despair to the ups and downs of life. share, and usually surprise. A long montage of them all staring at their respective screens and shouting “Holy fuck!” call out. typifies the approach, and despite the film’s fast pace and rapid editing, it eventually wears thin.
Nevertheless, it’s a compelling story told in a largely engaging manner, anchored by Dano’s great turn as the eccentric, strong-willed Gill, who becomes an unlikely folk hero. Stupid money (the title refers to the funds invested in the market by individual investors) should strike a chord with people fascinated by the world of finance, which seems to be just about everyone these days. As no less esteemed figure than Anthony Scaramucci puts it in one of the clips shown, this series of events was “the French Revolution of the financial world,” and it’s nice to see the farmers winning for a change.
Location: Toronto International Film Festival (gala presentations)
Production: Stage 6 Films, Black Bear, Ryder Picture Company, Winklevoss Pictures
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen
Director: Craig Gillespie
Screenwriters: Lauren Schuker Blum, Rebecca Angelo
Producers: Aaron Ryder, Teddy Schwarzman, Craig Gillespie
Executive Producers: Michael Heimler, John Friedberg, Johnny Holland, Ben Mezrich, Lauren Schuker Blum, Andrew Swett, Rebecca Angelo, Kevin Ulrich, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winkevoss
Director of photography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
Production Designer: Scott Kuzio
Editor: Kirk Baxter
Composer: Will Bates
Costume Designer: Kameron Lennox
Casting: Mary Vernieu, Bret Howe
1 hour 44 minutes