Sym­pa­thy for the devils

Mar­gin Call

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Star­ring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bet­tany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Bad­g­ley, Si­mon Baker, Demi Moore, Stan­ley Tucci. 97 min­utes, rated M (of­fen­sive lan­guage). Show­ing at Em­bassy, Light House Pe­tone, Pent­house cine­mas.

Iwas in the United States in Septem­ber 2008 when Wall Street – and the en­tire US econ­omy – was brought to its knees.

Though it was all over the news, I strug­gled to com­pre­hend the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion. Eco­nom­ics has never been my strong sub­ject. If some­one had told me Lehman Broth­ers was a menswear store I would have be­lieved them and what was all this about lever­age ra­tios, hedge funds and sub­prime mort­gages?

A lot of it re­mains nu­meral soup to me but I’ll be damned if rookie film-maker J C Chan­dor hasn’t made a com­pelling hu­man drama out of all those charts and in­dexes.

Mar­gin Call takes us in­side one of Wall St’s steel and glass tow­ers on the eve of destruc­tion, as a fi­nance com­pany re­alises the party is over and hatches a plan

Wall St bro­ker Sam Rogers’ (Kevin Spacey) com­pany loy­alty and in­tegrity is tested when he is or­dered to trade as­sets they know to be worth­less to avoid bank­ruptcy. to save it­self.

Though talk- heavy and set al­most en­tirely in an of­fice build­ing – the clos­est thing to an ac­tion scene is a bro­ker driv­ing his con­vert­ible out of the un­der­ground – this picture is to­tally en­thralling.

Chan­dor, whose fa­ther worked 25 years for Mer­rill Lynch, has as­sem­bled a crack­ing en­sem­ble cast and writ­ten com­plex, en­gag­ing char­ac­ters who we de­spise one mo­ment but em­pathise with the next.

Whereas Cur­tis Han­son’s solid HBO of­fer­ing Too Big To Fail de­picted the fall­out and bail outs mostly from the po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive, Mar­gin Call puts a hu­man face to the of­ten de­monised bankers, bro­kers and an­a­lysts. For the most part they are not bad peo­ple, but they are a cog in a ma­chine that re­wards ruth­less­ness and amoral be­hav­iour.

A vic­tim of down­siz­ing, risk alienist Eric Dale (Stan­ley Tucci) passes his final piece of work to col­league Peter Sul­li­van (Zachary Quinto) be­fore be­ing es­corted from the build­ing. Peter fin­ishes the cal­cu­la­tion and learns the volatil­ity of the mar­ket has left the com­pany hold­ing too many toxic as­sets. Bank­ruptcy beck­ons.

The rev­e­la­tion fil­ters up the food chain to Peter Bet­tany’s cocky team leader, Kevin Spacey’s sea­soned com­pany man, Si­mon Baker and Demi Moore’s am­bi­tious ex­ec­u­tive team and head hon­cho John Tuld, played by Jeremy Irons – the em­bod­i­ment of smug op­u­lence.

Mar­gin Call is an ex­tremely af­fect­ing moral­ity tale. As fas­ci­nat­ing as it is to watch the firm clam­our for sur­vival like a drown­ing man – des­per­ate to stay afloat no mat­ter who else is pushed un­der – it’s the moral crises faced by the in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ters that re­ally pack a wal­lop.

As char­ac­ters re­flect on the in­dus­try they serve, some strug­gle to find in­tegrity in what they do, while oth­ers find ways to ra­tio­nalise their sta­tus and hunger for more, more, more.

Judge­ment day:

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