What happens when the music stops in Margin Call

Writer/director J.C. Chandor will be a name to watch out for on the strength of his terrific debut movie MARGIN CALL.

Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto and Penn Badgley in Margin Call

Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto and Penn Badgley in a crisis meeting

A hastily called crisis meeting to avert economic disaster is one of the key scenes in J.C. Chandor’s superbly executed 2011 drama MARGIN CALL. When bright-as-a-button analyst Zachary Quinto is asked by suave CEO Jeremy Irons how bad the situation is using the famous analogy of what happens when the music stops, he replies

“If the music were to stop, as you put it, then this model wouldn’t even be close to that scenario. It would be considerably worse.”

Set over a tense 24-hour period at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis, we follow a group of key players at an investment bank as they all come to the painful realisation that their lives, as they know them, will never be the same.

Quite deservedly nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay, first-time writer/director Chandor drew his morality tale from his father’s many years of Wall Street experience. But he also assembled a top-drawer cast to realise his story: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Penn Badgley, Stanley Tucci and Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto (also one of the film’s producers) all deliver pitch-perfect performances. And what’s more, the movie was shot in just over 17 days. How’s that for talented, guerrilla film-making?

“There are three ways to succeed in this business: be first, be smarter… or cheat.”

So says Jeremy Irons’ CEO perhaps, on the surface, the villain of the piece. But everything is so much greyer than that and the movie smartly makes you re-evaluate this incredible event and the people involved, at every turn.

MARGIN CALL is an intelligent, rewarding watch and as it’s now out on Blu-ray and DVD, I recommend you check it out.