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'Margin Call': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

December 1, 2011 | 11:56 am

If you haven't yet, please make time to see “Margin Call,” before it slips out of theaters.

This terrific cerebral thriller, anchored by tightly wound performances from Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley and an exceptional Zachary Quinto, takes you inside the boardrooms and the backrooms of Wall Street in the first days of the financial meltdown that shaped our present woes.

That may sound like stuffy, depressing stuff -- and I'll grant you the depressing part. But it’s the human dynamics and moral dilemmas of suddenly discovering that you’re on a rapidly sinking ship that makes for such gripping drama. In writer-director J.C. Chandor's impressive feature debut, he takes us into the heart of darkness and exposes the darkest of hearts.

That “Margin Call” is able to humanize anyone involved in one of the most devastating cases of asset covering this country has seen is a measure of his considerable artistry. You won’t forgive them, but you will understand them -– at least marginally better.

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-– Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic


 
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