Boiler Room

A fairly run of the mill thriller idea made much better than it really is by some great and charismatic performances. It's also a kind of remake of Wall Street, which is paid homage in the film to the extent that the lead characters are depicted sitting around watching it, quoting it word for word.

It's essentially a morality tale about the amoral lives of a company of young rich stockbroking jockeys. In lesser talented hands it could have ended up cheesy and B grade, but everyone involved gives it such credibility through their realistic delivery, particularly the delightfully smarmy Ben Affleck, despite only appearing in a handful of scenes, his ethos, summed up in the line 'Anyone who says money is the root of all evil doesn't have any'.

Giovanni Ribisi is Seth, running a neighbourhood casino in his apartment, disgusted and virtually disowned by his father, a prominent judge. This is one film where the father/son relationship is well drawn and heartfelt, not the sugary tripe of most Hollywood drama. Throughout the movie you get the feeling everything Seth does is to please his father when nothing's ever good enough, made most palpable during his story to new girlfriend (and receptionist at the firm) Abbie (Nia Long) about a pivotal moment during his childhood.

He joins a hot young stockbroking firm where abrasive, slick recruiter Affleck (channelling and even referring to Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross) gives them an intriguing pep talk - they'll work hard but all be millionaires within three years.

Seth finds his talent dealing in stocks, but two things temper his enthusiasm - the seeming unwillingness of his supervisor Greg (Katt) to give him the credit (and commission) he deserves, and the practice of talking up stocks to people who can't afford them, knowing full well they'll make the firm rich and his customers broke.

When he uncovers shady dealings (ie that every stock the company sells is fake), and gets nabbed by the FBI, he deals for his and his father's immunity (in the cumulatively and honestly touching moment of their relationship) to sink his employers, walking out of the building and even turning his back on the girl as the black vans descend. It's a very strong image, almost symbolic of a man escaping a collapsing building, and a worthy ending to a greatly executed movie, even if the idea isn't the most original or exciting.

Snappy editing and camerawork compliment the frenetic pace of the script and actors involved, and it's a good exercise in filmmaking technique by first time writer/director Younger.

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