Sunday, November 6, 2011

Margin Call

Sure, we've already seen some quality films about corporate America, downsizing, and the crash of the financial and real estate markets, like 'Up in the Air', 'Inside Job', and 'Too Big to Fail'.  Those were all great, but I don't think any of them quite hit the level of intensity and realism you get with 'Margin Call', which tells the all-too-real tale of one nameless investment banking firm just realizing they were on the precipice of disaster in 2008.

While 'Too Big To Fail' and 'Inside Job' do a better job of explaining what caused the financial meltdown, this one seems to get the impact on those that caused it just right.  You get a sense for what life was really like for yuppie fat cats on Wall Street pre-crash.  You get a true idea of the hierarchy and at all levels you can feel their increasingly megalomaniacal obsession with money and power.  (I love the way the film begins with the lower level analysts and continuously introduces you to people higher up on the food chain.  And when you finally get to the top it's just mesmerizing watching Jeremy Irons chew the scenery, in the best performance I've seen from him to date.)  And you can almost taste the fear as things go awry and crumble in just one day.  I found myself simultaneously angry at them, envious of them, and relieved I'm not them.

The powerhouse testosterone-filled cast includes Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, Jeremy Irons, and Demi Moore.  (No offense on that testosterone reference, Ms. Moore, but you're basically just one of the guys in this one.)  And they all give some of the best performances of their careers, largely due to unbelieveable writing and a tight, tense story that takes place in one day, primarily in one corporate office setting, that makes this feel like a well-crafted play.  This one's for the 'Glengarry Glen Ross' crowd.

Unfortunately this great film is only in limited release in theaters but it's also available for a short while on Video on Demand.  It astounds me that a movie this good only gets released in a few hundred theaters while 'Puss in Boots' reigns supreme in almost 4,000.  That makes me almost as angry as I am at Wall Street.

Grade: A


  1. This I have to see. D and I need to watch Too Big to Fail as well... but the great Jeremy Irons? I'll watch anything the man does. Still miss his voice on Spaceship Earth (although Judi Dench's voice is lovely to hear in a totally different way).
    Your last paragraph makes a very valid point. Sheeesh.

  2. just reviewing your list of top 2011 films and glad I made it to this one. I totally agree, it's seriously good.