Writer/director J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call is a tense and atmospheric drama set at the start of the 2008 financial collapse.
The consequences of crash continue to rebound around the globe, but like many disasters it started quietly and largely unnoticed.
As Margin Call accurately shows, by the time we knew what was happening, it was too late to stop it.
The story unfolds over 36 hours and takes place within the trading floors and board room of a financial house which discovers its debt ‘assets’ are greater than the total value of the company.
The film boasts an impressive cast line-up including Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moor, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker and Zachary Quinto, ensuring plenty of top-notch performances as the tension mounts.
Quinto is especially impressive as the young analyst who realises the sacked Tucci has uncovered just how perilous the firm’s future has become. As the knowledge spreads through the management tiers, hubris gives way to panic.
Chandor repeatedly dares the audience to feel sympathy with the bankers – starting the story with the no-fault sacking of hundreds and peeling back the emotional layers as the ‘lucky’ survivors realise there’s little of their careers left to save.
Yet he accomplishes this without ever excusing his characters for their actions, when the firm’s chief executive (Irons) actively boasts that he knows little about sector his company works within or the products it trades, the film expects and wants you to be repulsed.
Perhaps fittingly given the polarising views of bankers in the financial collapse, at times Margin Call feels like a staging of evidence in a court room drama.
Our verdict: 4/5