Margin Call

DRAMA; 1hr 47min

STARRING: Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci

Crash and burn: Spacey

Riveting is a word much bandied about in movie-reviewing parlance but this considered appraisal by first-time writer-director J.C. Chandor of the lead-up to the 2008 global financial crisis is a magnetic attention-getter. It begins with the summary dismissal of a Wall Street investment bank risk-management executive (Tucci as Eric), along with hundreds of unseen others like him. That evening, while investigating one of Eric’s files, analyst Peter Sullivan (Quinto) discovers that the company’s projected mortgage losses exceed its worth.


Hold the phone! It’s on for young and old as the executive committee scramble through the night for damage control (Irons is the head honcho, Spacey the conscience, Baker a hotshot and Moore and Bettany battened-down survivors). “It’s a long way down,” a junior number-cruncher (Penn Badgley) observes from the building’s mile-high roof. Is it ever, and captured by Chandor with the gravitas of Greek tragedy. Back-room machinations at this exalted level have the quiet menace of a circling school of sharks, an orbit that comes down to the grasping mechanics of survival. They’re not a pretty picture, and perversely more compelling for that.