US drama takes on financial downturn on Wall Street
Margin call indeed. American debut feature director JC Chandor’s take on the 2008 economic meltdown is an ambiguous beast, melding bullpen drama, forensic procedural and moral hazard in its account of a Wall Street investment bank’s long, dark night of the soul at the start of the crisis. Chandor proffers a cross-section of a Lehman Brothers-esque company as the realisation dawns that sub-prime speculation has brought the market to an ominous tipping point. From Zachary Quinto’s low-level whizz kid, who raises the alarm, we go up via middle-rankers Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore and Stanley Tucci to dark lord Jeremy Irons, with whom the buck might literally stop.
The performances are as meaty as you’d hope, and the script offers plenty of pseudo-Mamet jostling. Missing, however, are the outsider eye and moral perspective. Margin Call
presents Wall Street on its own terms even in meltdown – not uncritically but claustrophobically, like a Mob movie indifferent to victims of crime. It’s unclear whether the picture realises how bitter a taste this leaves.
By Ben Walters
17 April 2012
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