July 16, 2012

Screw Wall Street... See Margin Call!

We caught a great movie on Video-on-Demand recently, a little-seen gem from last year called Margin Call.

Okay Margin Call wasn't that little seen, as it got an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and stars big names including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, and a surprisingly effective Demi Moore.

The film takes place over 36-hours at a large Wall Street investment firm during the financial crisis of 2008. Two junior type executives played by Zachary Quinto and Penn Badgley discover the truth about the imminent financial disaster and take it to the executives of the powerful firm, and then they have some big financial and ethical decisions to make, all very quickly: do they tell anyone? Do they try to protect their clients? Or do they keep it quiet grab whatever cash they can by selling bad stock?

There is an all-night and then all-day panicked session, where every expert is double checking (could this really be happening?) and double dealing (could I shift this bomb to someone else?). People start taking sides, switching allegiances, and ultimately turning on each other. 

My favourite Margin Call quote is said by big boss Jeremy Irons when the situation is explained to him by boy wonder Zachary Quinto: "The music is about to stop and we are about to be left holding the biggest bag of odorous excrement in the history of capitalism."

I am not going to give more away, as the plot is all about the twists and turns, but let me just say that, surprisingly I know, ethics are a very rare thing when big money is involved.

This is smart, fast, thought-provoking drama. See it.