Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Movie #6 Margin Call

 Another quickie, and behold - the first film that I've gone out of my way to pay to see (for the uninitiated, I get to see so many movies because I do a pay monthly deal with one of the big cinema chains. Fifteen quid a month; I get my money's worth). I played away at the Printworks Odeon in Manchester, a cinematic machine so rapaciously commercial in it's pricing structure, concessions and extra-money-for-better-seats fiddles that it makes my local Cineworld look more like the Cinema Paradiso. But I really wanted to see Margin Call - the cast list is packed with actors I admire, and the whole film has a kind of Glengarry Glen Ross appeal; zippy dialogue, intelligent plot, angry people in small rooms, Kevin Spacey and so on - all commendable stuff.

In a way, it was appropriate that I should see this film at such an avaricious host: it's a drama relating to the recent financial crisis and in particular the role of greed in setting the whole chain of events in action. Set in one of those giant, unfathomable financial institutions that deals with the selling on of probabilities and risks, somewhat at arms length from actual tangible stocks and shares (shades of Wall Street, there), Margin Call covers the 36-hour tipping point when the Western world collapsed into financial crisis, telling the story via the interactions of several principle (fictionalised) figures as the penny begins to drop.

The cast list itself is drool-worthy (Spacey, Tucci, Bettany, Irons & Moore for starters) and is an extraordinary ensemble for what is basically an low-budget independent feature by a debut director (J.C. Chandor). The story is well told, and while I can't imagine this will hold everybody's interest - it is very wordy - I found it a fascinating and relate-able story. Special mention for Jeremy Irons as the big bad British boss, who delivers his lines with relish ("speak to me as if I were a labrador").

Where it fails, perhaps is in facilitating the understanding of the financial crisis; though it may just be that I'm a bit slow (or indeed that the director wasn't interested in doing this); perhaps it was more of a topical backdrop to a story funadamentally about treachery and greed. But a very enjoyable film for grown-ups that's worth seeking out, if it's on near you.



  1. Glad you enjoyed the film, I was really taken with it. I agree that the wordiness of it, especially in regards to the business lingo, will turn some off. However, the performances are aces all the way. Spacey has not been this good in a long time and Iron's nearly steals the film with his stellar cameo.

  2. Jeremy Irons is indeed fantastic - and it is great to see Spacey doing something other than slumming (to be fair, he's been busy with his theatre work but still - Horrible Bosses...).

  3. Good review!

    Thought this was a solid drama-thriller. Very well-directed. Spacey, Baker, Tucci, and Irons were excellent.