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Margin Call—movie review

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
October 21, 2011 4:15 AM
2 Comments
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Margin Call manages to put a human face on the current economic crisis—but I wish it was as good as its trailer, which is forceful, well-edited, and dramatically scored. The film itself has many good qualities, and an exceedingly strong cast, but it’s a bit dry.

The setting is a major investment bank in Manhattan, where the story is set in motion by a series of peremptory firings. As risk-management specialist Stanley Tucci is escorted out of the office he gives some information to his protégé, Zachary Quinto (and, curiously, the security guard doesn’t stop him), urging him—

—to follow up on it, but warning him to be careful. What Quinto gleans from this data could implode the entire company, a revelation that leads to a series of all-night meetings and showdowns.

Among the key players: thirty-seven year veteran Kevin Spacey, high-living Paul Bettany, self-absorbed Simon Baker, straight-talking Demi Moore, and finally, head honcho Jeremy Irons, who’s willing to do whatever is necessary to save the firm.

You couldn’t ask for a better cast; Spacey and Irons are particular standouts. But when the movie was over I didn’t feel satisfied: there’s something missing, even though the screenplay (by first-time feature director J.C. Chandor) is completely credible. There is a missing ingredient; perhaps it’s an urgent music score, as we hear in the trailer. Maybe it’s just that the film is as insular as the people it portrays.


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2 Comments

  • Brett | October 23, 2011 11:24 AMReply

    The biggest problem I had with this film was that Kevin Spacey was seriously miscast. His character is too high-minded and scrupulous to be played by an actor who is best remembered for his work in "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty".

    I couldn't accept Spacey in this form. I kept expecting him to get all gung-ho about the firm saving itself at the market's expense. Spacey does not play the voice of reason well. That's not in his repetoire.

  • Sheldon Ashcroft | October 21, 2011 5:08 AMReply

    Just like with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Too Big to Fail which were also about the global recession, Margin Call is a very important movie.

    ‘Margin Call’ should have gotten a nationwide theatrical release. If it was given a fair chance, it could have been No. 1 this week. It has a stellar cast. I wanted to see how it would have done commercially if released nationwide and it deserves better than to go unnoticed by the public now.

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