The award-winning documentary Inside Job drilled down into what caused the 2008 financial crisis by consulting some of the finest financial experts. Margin Call creates a fictionalised account of the most critical 24 hour period of the meltdown, featuring some of Hollywood's most respected actors.
Margin Call is a companion piece to Inside Job in the style of 12 Angry Men, offering outsiders a glimpse into the backroom ethics and doomsday plotting of an investment bank on the brink of collapse. Promising new filmmaker J.C. Chandor takes the audience on a gripping, behind-the-scenes journey into the taut atmosphere of a financial firm focussing on several key financial executives and employees.
Chandor's first feature film is a character-driven drama. The Margin Call writer-director reportedly wrote the majority of the script in four days, yet the material is smart, crisp and polished. While Inside Job gave a comprehensive and intelligent overview, the content was in-depth and required investment from the viewer. Margin Call undresses key concepts, making them it accessible.
Margin Call features an ensemble of award-winning screen veterans. Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons make scene-stealing anyone's game. These heavyweight actors deliver solid performances and give the film instant credibility. Their characters are vilified, yet they manage to extract the humanity between the numbers.
As if those big name actors weren't enough - in-form, up-and-coming actors Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto and Simon Baker drive the level of performance up another notch. There aren't any weak links and this cast of fine actors all clock in solid performances. The dramatic weighting is shared equally, but if one were forced to pick a winner... Kevin Spacey's middle man would be a safe bet.
Margin Call is a gripping and timely capsule drama-thriller that gives us a window into the financial meltdown. It's character-driven and may be a bit claustrophobic for movie goers who expect a bit more space. The office setting is stressful, especially if you're trying to get away from it all and at times the environment is a little stagnant.
This would play out perfectly as an intense television suit drama and quite frankly, if it weren't for the high-calibre ensemble, you wouldn't expect to see it in cinemas. Margin Call adds a little finesse to taut boardroom political dramas like Wall Street and Boiler Room. It's not as locked down as 12 Angry Men, but outclasses Oliver Stone's sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
The bottom line: Gripping