ReviewWriter: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Margin Call" is one of those movies that you either love or hate. I happen to fall into the former camp, although in the beginning, I was dangerously teetering on the edge of the latter.
What is it that makes this Wall Street movie so interesting, you ask? The same element that makes politics so interesting: the truth. That and the drama. Why else would you want to read about politics? Or watch this movie about Wall Street, for that matter.
"Margin Call" opens with the company in its downsizing season. Zachary Quinto is Peter Sullivan, a young trader who is torn up about his mentor, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) being fired. Before Dale leaves, he hands Peter a USB, with the warning, "Be careful". With his genius, Peter manages to solve the puzzle that Dale has been working on, but the answers do not bode well for the company. It proves that the long boom they have been experiencing is set to disappear overnight and as this information rises up the hierarchy, urgency builds, and more and more higher-ups come in in the early morning to work out how to save the company before dawn.
What makes the movie so interesting is the way the characters are portrayed. Kevin Spacey's character, Sam Rogers, is juxtaposed in two scenes where first, when his pragmatic assistant, Will Emerson, played by Paul Bettany, he was shown was someone who hardly takes notice of those who work for him, which makes him a bad boss. But contrary to what we all think, bad bosses do not necessarily make bad people, as we see him cut up over his dog's death. In addition, we get to see the side of the men calling the shots that we never would have seen: their incompetence. In a tense scene, where Dale and Sullivan are explaining their findings, we see the supervisors betraying their ignorance of the technical details, implying that the money that they earn are by no means of their own efforts. And as the crisis unfolds, the junior traders begin to wonder what it is like to be a one of the people out there, who cannot see the impending crisis, but blaming Wall Street in the bad times while enjoying the easy credit and benefits of financial industry that takes risks.
However, this movie is not neither an attack on traders nor risk analysts. Rather, debut writer-director J.C. Chandor presents these characters not as indifferent masters of the universe, nor as vampires, but as people, and his film is the stronger for it. For an independent drama film, "Margin Call" has one of the most star-studded ensemble cast. From Kevin Spacey to Paul Bettany to Zachary Quinto to Jeremy Irons to Stanley Tucci and Demi Moore, few can watch the movie and not claim to know anyone. And the best part about this particular cast is their ability to act, rather than being mere eyecandy.
The cinematography in this film works to its credit as well. As mentioned before, J.C. Chandor knows how to juxtapose images and scenes well, and Each gets a key moment of vulnerability, away from public eyes, and for a second, we actually get to see the impact that this crisis has on each of them, such as Rogers' choice between his principles and his livelihood, and Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore)'s when she comes to the realisation that she is to be a scapegoat. We witness their souls dying, surely but surely, and Chandor's subtlety is excellent.
Overall, "Margin Call" is definitely a worthy contender to the Wall Street films out there, and maybe even better than Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" itself. It is a sophisticated piece of cinematic work that does not belittle the audience, nor is it pretentious. For this, some may not find the movie to their liking, as I did at first, but have the patience to stick with it, and you will find that it is worth more than its weight in gold.Cinema Online, 06 January 2012