Feature

Margin Call

The recent misdeeds of the financial industry are re-enacted in this film about a Wall Street firm facing collapse because of a scam perpetrated on clients.

Directed by J.C. Chandor
(R)

***

Margin Call could be to Occupy Wall Street “what The China Syndrome was to Three Mile Island,” said David Edelstein in New York. But beyond making the recent misdeeds of the financial industry accessible to movie audiences, it is also “a hell of a picture.” Viewers are inside a Lehman Brothers–like firm when a young analyst (Zachary Quinto) receives a computer file from an ex-colleague (Stanley Tucci) revealing that a scam perpetrated on clients has brought the company to the verge of collapse. A series of meetings ensues—with Demi Moore and Kevin Spacey among the higher-ups—climaxing in a middle-of-the-night meeting with CEO Jeremy Irons. Though there’s “an actors’ showcase quality” to the proceedings, the big names deliver, said Andrew O’Hehir in Salon.com. In fact, Spacey’s turn as a conflicted salesman is “one of the great performances” of the year. Given its many dialogue-heavy scenes, the whole drama might have been “better served on the stage,” said Randy Myers in the San Jose Mercury News. Even so, it finds such a deeply human tragedy in Wall Street’s crisis that it feels almost “Shakespearean.”

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