This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) is clearly the focus of the film and provides a rich portrait of a particular parental failure, an imperious and cruel father. Neil is seen in two modes throughout the film, a shrunken little boy in the presence of his overly controlling father or boisterous and highly sociable around his friends.
The father is a hard man who likes to be seen as a hard man and to him having a son is the ultimate status…
There are multiple scenes in this where character A lectures character B, generally in very broad strokes on money and the stock market. When Lumet does something similar in Network a fundamental necessity for these types of scenes to work is always fulfilled, the character being lectured to is uninformed, ignorant. Oliver Stone, in his desperation to tell everyone just what he thinks of wall street brokers forgets this first step, and so you end up with totally unnatural pieces…