Directed by: J.C Chandor
Starring: Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Penn Badgley, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci
Sassi’s Star Rating: 4/5
It must be one sweet sense of validation to wait fifteen years for your directorial break, and then to walk away from it with an Oscar nomination. At least that’s what I like to imagine writer/director J.C Chandor feeling when his first feature film Margin Call received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at last year’s Academy Awards.
Modelled on the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, this white collar thriller fictionalises twenty four hours between the walls of a prestigious Wall Street investment firm at the precipice of the GFC. An expertly paced and tightly wound thriller with a perfect cast, it’s hard to believe that Chandor’s talents were restricted to directing commercials before this.
Amid cutbacks Eric (Staney Tucci) is cruelly ousted from his position in the risk management department of the investment firm he has worked for the majority of his life. Before he leaves he hands a formula he was working on to junior analyst Peter (Zachary Quinto). Peter is able to finish what Eric wasn’t, and calculates that due to an underestimation of environmental factors on key investments, the bank will shortly acquire a loss greater than the sum of it’s worth. In other words the company is going down, and it’s going down fast.
And henceforth sprouts the corporate bullshit as the boss, the boss’ boss, and the boss’ boss’ boss, are all called in throughout the night to develop a plan to minimise losses before trading opens the following morning. There’s enough corporate bull to make your toes curl as Wall Street’s fat cats wade through the murky waters of high stakes business ethics.
Chandor both romanticises and lambastes the high earning suits that spend more money a year on strippers and alcohol than the average annual income. By the time the opening bell is rung at the Stock Exchange decisions have been made that you’ll either agree with or abhor. I won’t ruin the ending, but we all know what happened in the real life version, and that’s the scariest ending of all. Who knew that a film without dramatics could be so tragic?
Margin Call is available now with special features on DVD (RRP$39.95) and Blu-Ray™ ($49.95).
Category: Film & TV