Margin Call

There’s a mini-trend of films that have recently hit the multiplex dealing with our current financial crisis, and how we got into this mess. From gripping documentaries like “Inside Job,” to character portraits like “Casino Jack,” and even fictional works like “The Company Men.” Add to this list the new film “Margin Call,” an excellent drama that takes place inside the confines of a Lehman Brothers-esque financial house as the collapse begins. With a stellar cast including Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore and Stanley Tucci, this film is stocked with a-list performers. The action unfolds like a Greek tragedy with characters who are both innocent and evil, large and small, and all trapped on a doomed ship of their own construction.

Largely played out within the offices of the financial institution, the story follows the discovery of an emminent collapse that will not only cripple the institution that employs the characters, but will also damage the world economy. With sparse dialog and beautifully framed imagery, the film gives the actors wide room to navigate and fully flesh-out their well-drawn characters. While doing little to humanize some of the upper-echelon architects of the disaster, “Margin Call” allows us to witness the unraveling of an enormous ball of twine, only to find that those at the top will remain there despite the current collapse. As neatly outlined in one great exchange between Spacey and Irons, this is just one more disaster in a long line of disasters, and the same percentage of people will always be on the wrong side of the equation.

It’s hard to imagine better casting, with all leads delivering strong performances. This film should be required viewing at business schools along with “Inside Job,” and hopefully this film will be seen by a wide audience. A modern-day Shakespeare tragedy, “Margin Call” is a must see.

Margin Call is at the Loft Cinema starting October 28.

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About Herb Stratford

Arts and culture writer and film reviewer. Historic theatre restoration consultant. Artist and arts educator.
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