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An atmospheric piece about the mechanics behind the collapse of the financial markets. The authors do not try to explain the world of finance to an audience that would not be interested in that. What they are trying – successfully – is to tell the story of a bunch of characters experiencing a very long night on the job. Only the best of them (that means “best at their job”, not “the best people”, maybe quite the contrary ) manage to take this to be just another day in the office.

Jeremy Irons plays this slightly over the top, he is acting it, but he gets across the message that there are people who need to lead in this kind of situation (the imminent crash of a giant investment bank)  , and others who need to follow. These followers constitute a wide range of Hollywood talent old and new: Demi Moore, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany most notably.  Most of them do not do anything during the film: Except Spacey and Irons, most have only a limited number of lines, and with Demi Moore and Tucci, it is even a plot point that at some point they have to sit, shut up and earn a lot of money if they can manage to do that.

I enjoyed the lack of spectacle, nobody is frantically running around, nobody is shouting in panic, throwing piles of paper in the air or themselves out of windows. The world moves towards financial Armageddon silently and coldly. People wait, people think, some cry, but then again, that is mostly about their dogs, sometimes about their own careers. Maybe the best speech is the completely out-of-context explanation by the risk analyst played by Tucci that he used to build bridges, and he calculates the practical benefit of this by showing how many years of human life were not spent in cars because of one single bridge he built. He is mourning this tangible past, and you have the impression that after the war against the markets is over, he will start building again, maybe a wooden shed or a bird’s house…

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