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BOILER ROOM

SYNOPSIS:
19 year-old Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), the son of a New York judge, has dropped out of college and runs an illegal casino in his apartment. When stockbroker Greg (Nicky Katt) visits the casino he is impressed by Seth's ambition and offers him a trainee position at his brokerage firm J.T. Marlin. After an enticing introduction by Jim (Ben Affleck), Seth joins up as a trainee. Fuelled by promises of becoming a millionaire within three years Seth blindly follows the cut-throat directives of the firm which is selling dubious stock to unsuspecting investors. After becoming involved romantically with company receptionist Abby (Nia Long) Seth faces a moral dilemma when his suspicions surrounding the company's illegal trading trading practices prove correct.

"For an hour Boiler Room has an intensity which feels like Wall Street stripped of its glamour and bathed in sweat. It loses steam as plot distractions dilute the impact in the second half but there's still enough here to warrant attention. More than just a re-hash of its obvious inspiration (with nods to Glengarry Glen Ross also thrown in) Boiler Room strips away the "master of the universe" facade of stockmarket players to reveal the dirt. Seth, who should not and does not ever emerge as a likeable character, regards JT Marlin as the contemporary equivalent of an after school job, except this one promises more rewards than a paper round. Ben Affleck, who appears as a company recruitment chief with a ferocious line in motivational speech, describes himself as an old man at the age of 27. He's talking to kids off the street or, in Seth's case, a kid whose casino is at least providing his gamblers with a service they actually want. The dialogue is pungent and efficient. Scenes cut out when they should - there is no waste or padding, reinforcing the idea that it is only here, now and the next sucker you can con out of their money which counts. The firm isn't located downtown but in a drab light industrial area an hour out of N.Y. - it feels temporary and fragile just like the stocks Seth and his fellow traders are dealing in. As Seth observes, these are guys "who had all the money in the world and not a clue how to spend it". The tension between Seth and his father is one of the film's other strong points, particularly when dad lays down the law "I'm not your best friend, that's your mother's racket. I'm your dad, I tell you when you screw up". The latter stages of the film are a little repetitive. The relationship between Seth and receptionist Abby occupies far too much screen time and the conclusion is rather murky but Boiler Room is so compelling in its set-up the dip toward the end can be forgiven."
Richard Kuipers

"Like Wall Street, which gave a face to ugly capitalism in the 1980s, Boiler Room paints a compelling, disturbing picture of today’s version. Instead of Gordon Gekko style corporate raiders, we have a band of self-deluded go-getters. Unable to get jobs in the major broking houses, they land in an unscrupulous organisation stuck in a building off a freeway exit. At one point, their customers are described as schmucks - but for all their Rolexes and Ferraris, these guys are the real schmucks. Driven by largely unseen bosses into an existence where they must prey on the weak and gullible or be preyed on themselves, they’re quickly damaged and ultimately dehumanised. Boiler Room’s great strength is that it charts their demise with frightening acuity. Director Ben Younger keeps the pace lively and although the film runs nearly two hours, he doesn't belabour the points it makes. Giovanni Ribisi gives a strong if not spectacular performance; and the same can be said for Nia Long. But the film is really powered along by Nicky Katt and Vin Diesel as the vicious senior brokers and Ron Rifkin as Marty. It has to be said the tensions between Seth and his father are less interesting than the main drama, and towards the end a few small holes appear in the plot; however these are minor cavils. It’d be easy to dismiss Boiler Room as a knock-off of movies like Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross; but it’s much more. A powerful and chilling look at capitalism gone awry, it's definitely recommended - and should be compulsory viewing for bank executives."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BOILER ROOM (M)
(US)

CAST: Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Nicky Katt, Scott Caan, Ron Rifkin

DIRECTOR: Ben Younger

PRODUCER: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd

SCRIPT: Ben Younger

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Enrique Chediak

EDITOR: Chris Peppe

MUSIC: The Angel

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stuhler

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 12, 2000







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