Tuesday, October 18, 2011
#221: Margin Call
MAMI 2011 Review Series: To read the first one click here.
Director: J.C. Chandor
Gist: 24 hours spent with a team from an investment banking firm just before a full-blown recession hits USA.
Script: Tight, fast-paced and gripping. One couldn't ask more from a script that's broadly based out of one single location. Such uni-locale stories require enough plot points to keep the interest of the audience going and Margin Call has them in abundance. This is Chandor's first feature length script and yet it feels like its the work of a seasoned practitioner. The swift exchanges, corporate insults and jargon fly back and forth effortlessly through the movie and have enough spunk to keep you hooked to the action in the movie.
Acting: Top-class! Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany lead the performers with the dry portrayals of two corporate bigwigs who have made enough hay in the sunshine of the financial sector boom. Another convincing supporting act is by Simon Baker but if there's anyone who is a show stealer in the movie, it is Jeremy Irons. As the CEO of the company, he has to pull off a tough act in tough times and he nails it. The rookie analysts in the movie, played by Penn Badgeley and Zachary Quinto aren't bad either and have in fact a fair bit to contribute to the storyline. If there's anyone who looks a little out of place, it is Demi Moore.
Filmmaking craft: The best thing I loved about Margin Call is that certain mood that it encapsulates from the very first scene. That feel is kept consistent right through the movie and gives it an impending sense of doom. The cinematography backs this feel to the hilt and that surely lifts the movie by a couple of notches. The storytelling is on the ball too at all times and Chandor doesn't give a moment's respite to his audience to feel restless. In terms of a genre, it probably occupies that grey space in the middle of thriller and a drama and makes the best of both worlds.
Piece de resistance moments: Quite a few. To begin with the entire Jeremy Irons cameo, the boardroom discussions and a couple of brilliantly captured moments with Kevin Spacey.
In a nutshell: Undoubtedly, one of the best movies of the year, nothing marginal about it.