.

Margin Call

Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto

Directed by J.C. Chandor
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
October 20, 2011

Want to be a fly on the wall when a gaggle of investment bankers precipitate the 2008 financial crisis? Step up for Margin Call, a thrillingly intense look at  what went down through the prism of one unnamed Wall Street investment firm trying to save its ass before Armageddon. Writer-director J.C. Chandor, whose father toiled for Merrill Lynch, makes an impressive debut by focusing the action on a 24-hour period that starts with staff layoffs. One of the shitcanned is Eric Dale (a reliably superb Stanley Tucci), a manager who shares the smell of disaster with his  protégé Peter Sullivan (a very fine Zachary Quinto, one of the film's producers).  It looks like the future losses will exceed the firm's total market capitalization. Peter and his colleague, Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley), call in their boss, Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), who brings in his chief, Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey).

Before total panic, Sam consults with even bigger guns – Jared Cohen (Simon Baker, wily perfection) and Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore, silkily effective) – and then the firm's CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) descends from the sky in a chopper and all hell breaks loose. Chandor doesn't take the documentary approach of Inside Job or amp things up like Oliver Stone in his Wall Street films. He's measuring the human cost at stake. Every actor is first-rate. Spacey is at the top of his game. And Irons is stingingly funny as he addresses Quinto's character, a former rocket scientist at M.I.T.. Like all of us, Tuld wants a simple explanation. "Speak to me like a small child or a golden retriever," he implores. Margin Call is an explosive drama that speaks lucidly and scarily to the times we live in. As Tuld says, "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

Related
Peter Travers' Fall Movie Preview

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com