Thursday, 16 February 2012

2011 films: #6


Directed by J.C. Chandor

They tell you right: Margin Call could indeed be the best Wall Street movie ever made. It’s tough, it’s clever, it moves along in a totally engaging, delightfully business-like way (how else?), and it’s just such a brilliant reflection of our crisis-fuelled time – full of cynicism, dubious choices and twisted morality.

I won’t get into too much detail here; let’s just say that the story takes place at an investment bank facing the toughest crisis in its history. It’s of course a clear-cut allegory that needs no explanation. Desperate situation, a group of desperate people desperately trying to solve it – in fact, so much like Glengarry Glen Ross. Margin Call is just as big on close-ups, closed spaces and real, fully realised, fully developed characters. As for the latter, it might be the film’s main strength: there’s life, there’s emotional substance beating inside these people you don’t know and (quite possibly) don’t even like. And with the script being so well-written, all the actors excel. The cast includes Kevin Spacey (another Glengarry reference), Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany – all giving their absolute best as men under pressure trying to make the right moral choices. Not just right - right for them.

I know I’ve criticized a number of these year’s endings – and in good films, too. Margin Call, though, is just perfect in that respect. What you see is Spacey’s character burying his dead dog, slowly, methodically, in the dark – the scene is as effective and evocative as you can get. 

But in the end – it’s all about people you can feel and, hell, feel for.

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