Life in the margins

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Margin Call (15)

Director: JC Chandor.

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons.

Running time: 1hr 49mins.

THE echoes of a worldwide financial slump in 2008 are still being acutely felt all around the globe.

Whereas individuals — or even companies — can become bankrupt, who would have thought the same or similar could ever be said of countries?

Amidst all this financial meltdown comes this Hollywood story about just the sort of scenario that could have created our current plight.

One of Wall Street’s shining light investment banks is having a clear-out of staff in one of the shakedowns these establishments tend to have.

Just prior to becoming a victim of redundancy, section head Eric Dale (Tucci) has found an anomaly in the bank’s figures which perplexes him.

While he’s working on the puzzle, however, he is asked to leave the building.

Before he goes, he passes his work to a subordinate member of his team, Peter Sullivan (Quinto).

Sullivan does some after-hours pottering about with the figures and is shocked by what he discovers — the bank’s position on trading is exposed to a sum far in excess of the company’s worth.

The junior contacts his new superior (Bettany) and before long everyone upwards is called in during the night to see what can be done to clear up the mess including ruthless CEO John Tuld (Irons).

Their solution is as cold and heartless as you could imagine from the Masters of the Universe.

A strong cast and some of the best acting you will see in 2012 makes this as gripping a thriller as you will encounter for a long time to come.

Tucci and Spacey have the worn-down, “seen it all” weariness of people who have spent too long working for the devil while Zachary Quinto has the wide-eyed wonder of someone all too new to this cut-throat world of finance.

And, while the story is not a chapter and verse retelling of what happened four years ago, it’s not too far off the mark either.