You know, I consider myself a pretty smart guy. I’m a college graduate, and I can hold a conversation about a variety of subjects. But high finance and stock trading is something I’m not on a first name basis with. Oh, sure, I can balance my check book and grasp the basic concepts of supply and demand, but I’m no Wall Street analyst. So when a film about the machinations of the 2008 recession comes out, I’m on the fence. I’m either not gonna fully grasp what’s going on, or I’m going to be enlightened and have one of those “Aaha” moments.
Ok, it’s not necessarily a film one might think a bunch of “comedy film nerds” would be focusing on, but hey, the comic book movies are done for the year, so let’s delve into some meaty character driven drama, shall we? Time to find out why thye aren’t given out press passes so readily. Informative and intriguing, Margin Call offers a fascinating look inside the high end Wall Street financial world at a crucial moment in our history with an amazing ensemble cast.
Margin Call is indeed about the 2008 recession. It follows a group of keys players in a large financial company on Wall Street in the 24 hours leading up to the event that causes the financial crisis. Based on a crucial choice to be made after a disastrous error is discovered, the country found itself in its’ current situation.
This is one of those independent films that has a stellar ensemble cast. Dig this: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Mary McDonnell, Ashley Williams and others. That’s huge, right? And everyone pulls their weight, though some have larger roles than others. And based on the material, which is generally kind of grimm, you get varying degrees of shock, concern, calculated coolness, despair and frustration. Not a lot of happy in this. Though, that’s not to say there isn’t some dark humor along with much drama.
When Stanley Tucci’s character, Eric Dale, gives Quinto’s Peter Sullivan a flash drive with some questionable numbers on it after being let go, Peter takes a look at them. He discovers some serious over-spending and notifies his co-worker and his superior immediately. As the problem is confirmed as monumental, the call is made right up the chain of command – to the top. it’s interesting to see how the inner workings of such companies. What seems like over-explaining the situation to each successive person in charge, it turns out that this is really how it goes in these situations. Lucky for me, not being familiar with such things – I have a Fine Arts degree, after all. Some might find it annoying to keep hearing people break down the problem a multiple times, whereas I found it useful.
Keep in mind this is a dialogue heavy film. And yet, rather than getting bored with all the blabbity blab, I found myself still attentive and interested. The dialogue was pretty tight and we saw how the crisis affected each of the characters, and it indeed touches each of them in some way. And interestingly enough, you’ll choose characters to love or hate based on how you perceive their motivations.
Which leads me to mention that Margin Call manages to not take sides on the issue. Did these corporate guys make the right decision? Did they screw over the whole country? Were they just protecting their company allowing the remaining staff to keep their jobs? Was the cost of self-preservation too great? You’ll make those decisions yourself when you see it. The movie won’t shove anything down your throat.
I liked this character driven drama/thriller. Though as a thriller, it’s sort of a tense, slow burn. Some people might not find the dialogue heavy script to their liking, but it’s a subject that I’m not knowlegeable about and found informative, and the cast is really great. This is easily three and a half kittenhands. We can thank writer/director J.C. Chandor and actor/(one of many)producer Zachery Quinto for this one.
~Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, reinding you that a movie doesn’t have to have a comic book connection for us to review it. 😉