A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the biggest issue of concern in this dramatic thriller set on the eve of a huge Wall Street market crash is language. Characters liberally use "f--k," "s--t," and other strong words throughout the drama. They also drink and smoke frequently, seemingly as a response to stress. There's a brief scene in a fancy bar with sexy waitresses in skimpy clothes, and some brand names are visible from time to time. Despite all this, the movie is thoughtful and patient -- though teens may not be interested in the subject matter. But those who are could learn a bit about the ins and outs of recent Wall Street history.
What's the story?
In 2008, a Wall Street firm carries out a round of layoffs. One of the men to lose his job is Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci); he has discovered that the risky portfolios the company has been dealing with have stretched things too thin and that a huge crash is imminent. He leaves his findings with a young broker, Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto); by the middle of the night, all of the company's head honchos are sitting in tense meetings, trying to figure out what to do: protect the public interest or save their own jobs.
Is it any good?
J.C. Chandor makes his feature writing and directing debut here, and it's a very strong effort, suggesting a huge talent on the rise. MARGIN CALL is sometimes like a theatrical play, taking place on limited sets over a limited timeframe, with plenty of well-written, well-delivered monologues and dialogue. The plus side of this is that the movie gets some amazingly good performances from a wide range of actors, including Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, and especially Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey (the latter has by far the richest role).
Chandor also throws in some remarkable little touches here and there that no stage play could get at, such as a young broker ditching his bottle of alcohol just before entering a conference room, or a cleaning lady overhearing some vague but tense details of the night's drama. This is a quiet, thoughtful little movie that teens with an interest in national affairs will find highly impressive and hauntingly memorable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way in which many of the characters drink alcohol and smoke, as if out of necessity. Are the characters enjoying their drinks and cigarettes? What are the other reasons they could be smoking and drinking so much? What are some healthier ways to respond to stress?
Does the movie have a clear message? Does it have a clear hero? What would have been the right thing to do in this situation?
What do stock brokers actually do, according to the movie? Why do they bring in such big paychecks?
For kids who love drama
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