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.