Follows the key people at an investment bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis.
J.C. Chandor bring his feature film directorial debut to the screens with ‘Margin Call’, a film which explores the inner workings of an investment bank right at the point of realisation of a pending financial crash, and the beginnings of what would become known as the Global Financial Crisis.
J.C Chandor also wrote the film, and he has produced an excellent script which is able to take events surrounding complex financial scenarios and deliver them in a manner which enhances the dramatic nature of the film and tells a compelling story to the audience. The script refers to high level concepts of over-exposure to specific sectors of financial markets, and the over leveraging of capital without getting into detailed statistics which would likely detract from the more dramatic material being delivered.
‘Margin Call’ does have a tendency to provide too much exposition in some scenes, however overall it also maintains strong dialogue, engaging characters and for audiences interested in what is arguably the worst financial crisis since the great depression, the script delivers a compelling event based film.
Overall the pacing of the film is managed effectively, though it does tend to drag its heels a little too much moving into the final act. Once the third act begins however, the film delivers a solid finale to wrap things up (or set-up the events that we now know would follow).
What’s interesting with this film is not only the specific events it is exploring but the wider social commentary it delivers and the issues it encourages the audience to engage in, such as the nature of capitalistic society, general debt levels fuelling a standard of living that not everyone can afford and whether those that can afford it, should engage in such extreme excesses. These types of issues are put quite bluntly to the audience as a high powered executive within in the film admits he can’t afford leave the business and needs his remuneration package to continue. To further these points the film is making it also gives some insight and discussion on the large scale ramifications the decisions taken by a few key people for better or worse can have on the wider population.
‘Margin Call’ boasts an all-star cast with talents such as Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, and Paul Bettany all delivering strong performances. It’s good to see Zachary Quinto’s performances continue well beyond ‘Heroes’ with projects such as ‘Margin Call’, and ‘American Horror Story’ (not to mention ‘Star Trek’).
Visual effects aren’t a major component of this film however topping off the performances and script are a number of nice shots in and around New York, capturing the magnificent views to be held from the high level offices of the many financial institutions around the city.
Given the disappointment of ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ in 2010, ‘Margin Call’ couldn’t have been timed better, it delivers an intriguing and compelling take on the point in time where realisation began to set in on the financial markets sector that a crisis had been in the making for some time.
I’m giving ‘Margin Call’ 3.5 out of 5 stars, it’s released in cinemas on Thursday 15th March, 2012.