Where greed is god
MARGIN CALL ( MA15+) ★★★★■ Director: J. C. Chandor ( feature debut) Stars: Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci
JUST in case you missed the final results of the Global Financial Crisis – read a bank statement lately? – here is a quick recap. They won. You lost.
The victors’ clubrooms were located on Wall Street, home to the most malicious money men on the planet. They played a cynically sophisticated game of musical chairs on the world mortgage market.
When the melody stopped in 2008, the malady began. The sharpest, smartest Wall Streeters kept the spoils of the boom. Everyone else got the bust. Charming, huh? Thankfully, the superb GFC drama Margin Call isn’t about to hit us with a full action replay of what turned out to be a horribly one- sided contest.
No, this is what went down inside the coaches’ box at a crucial tipping point, where the match could still have gone either way.
As the film begins, a low- level risk analyst at a major merchant bank is working late into the night crunching the freshest financial numbers at his disposal.
He does not like what he sees. The data says his firm has been trading beyond its means for a considerable period of time. Unless they make a fast move, the doors will close tomorrow. It is that bad.
Those higher up in the company materialise immediately, as if out of thin air. Throughout the night, one cold, hard decision must – and will – be made.
It’s a decision that could possibly save the company from ruin but almost certainly consign its customers, trading partners and even its own employees to the scrapheap.
The screenplay of Margin Call was recently nominated for an Oscar, and should have won. I doubt there will be a better- written film to hit cinemas this year. Though an excessively talky affair, the film’s abundance of great lines of dialogue and powerful storytelling smarts cast a dazzling spell.
Of course, it helps that first- time writerdirector J. C. Chandor ( a name to watch in the future) has a AAA- rated cast at his disposal to get this difficult job done – especially on those occasions where the complexities of the financial world threaten to get the better of the average viewer.
It is here the likes of Jeremy Irons ( the ruthless CEO), Kevin Spacey ( pictured, his loyal, yet conflicted attack dog) and former Tasmanian Simon Baker ( a slick blame- shifter par excellence) step forward to simplify and humanise the tale in terms we can all understand.
More a sensibly suit- and- tie horror movie than a how- it- happened hatchet job, Margin Call will send a chill up the spine of anyone who owes one red cent to any financial institution.