Movie review – How a group of bankers blew the global economy

2012-01-13 11:27

Film: Margin Call (Ster Kinekor)
Director: JC Chandor
Featuring: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto and Jeremy Irons
Rating: 7/10

If you are seeing one film this weekend – make it this one.

If you don’t really get what the hell happened in 2008 when Wall Street and Canary Wharf went into freefall and took the global economy with them, this film’s for you. As Jeremy Irons’ character says: “Explain it to me as you would to a small child or a golden retriever” – and the film does just that, giving those of us who are slow to add up numbers a chance to see how a bunch of guys in sharp suits made money and made it disappear.

Zachary Quinto – most famous for his role as Sylar in the TV series Heroes – is a young risk analyst who spots the problem. In a nutshell, the investment firm he works for has far more debt on its books than the company is worth.

What follows is a taut thriller about the actions of the elite group of people desperate to save their jobs and big bonuses at the expense of their colleagues at other firms and the man in the street.

The cast of heavyweights gives the film gravitas, but the writer and director JC Chandor gives it more. He is the son of a man who worked at Merrill Lynch for 30 years so he has enough insider knowledge to make this film very close to the truth.

Margin Call is a cautionary tale about the dangers of reckless gambling and living beyond your means. As one financial whizz-kid in the film says, if he wasn’t working at an investment firm he’d be at the bookies putting all his money on number six. The film lifts the veil on a world – the banking sector – most of us don’t really understand.

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