Margin Call (15)
Set in 2008, a Wall Street firm goes through a brutal round of layoffs and one of the victims (Stanley Tucci) hands over a program he has been working on to a young analyst (Zachary Quinto) who has managed to survive the cuts. The analyst decides to take a look, finishes the work his former boss had started and realizes that the firm is overleveraged to a disastrous degree. It is late in the evening but he alerts his boss who, in turn calls in his boss … all the way up the chain to the company’s CEO (Jeremy Irons). Before work begins the following morning they have established a plan to purge the problem from their books and save the firm at the expense of practically every other person in the country.
The characters struggle with the ethics of their decision and come to terms with the fallout of their plans and while watching the movie, you are drawn into the complexity of characters that could easily be black and white caricatures of the Wall Street set. In some senses they are but as well as their complexity they have just enough humanity that you can empathize with them to the point where you have to keep reminding yourself that, human and frail as they are, in the final analysis these are not good people.
Margin Call employs an excellent cast who turn financial talk into compelling dialogue. They can also reflect the enormity of what is happening; their company and their lives are being made meaningless. The story is fast. Everything takes place within the span of twenty-four hours and the intensity builds from the first moments to the very end. It’s a gripping thriller. In summary writer/director J.C. Chandor’s enthralling first feature is a stark and bravely authentic portrayal of the financial industry.
Cast: Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey, Sam Rogers, Paul Bettany, Will Emerson, Jeremy Irons, John Tuld and Demi Moore
Awards: Oscar nominated, Eight awards and fourteen nominations
J.C. Chandor | USA | 2011 | 107 mins | 15
Weighted vote 88.8%