Margin Call (2011) Poster

Margin Call (2011)

  • Rate: 7.2/10 total 25,343 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | Thriller
  • Release Date: 29 September 2011 (Germany)
  • Runtime: 107 min
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Margin Call (2011)


Margin Call 2011tt1615147.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Margin Call (2011)
  • Rate: 7.2/10 total 25,343 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | Thriller
  • Release Date: 29 September 2011 (Germany)
  • Runtime: 107 min
  • Filming Location: New York City, New York, USA
  • Budget: $3,395,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $5,353,586(USA)(12 February 2012)
  • Director: J.C. Chandor
  • Stars: Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci and Kevin Spacey
  • Original Music By: Nathan Larson   
  • Soundtrack: Deep Tech
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Downsizing | Financial Disaster | Investment | Financial Crisis | Financial Problem

Writing Credits By:

  • J.C. Chandor (writer)

Known Trivia

  • Jeremy Irons’s part of John Tuld was originally offered to Ben Kingsley, but due to other projects he couldn’t play the role. Billy Crudup and Tim Robbins were also interested in taking parts, but had to refuse due to other obligations.
  • Carla Gugino was attached for over a year to play ‘Sarah Robertson’ but had to withdraw last minute due to another project. Fortunately Demi Moore was able to join the project.
  • J.C. Chandor said that he wrote the script for the story he had been carrying around in his head for about a ‘year-and-a-half’ in just four days, filling time between job interviews in Boulder, Colorado.
  • Grace Gummer, Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter and an actress herself, was set to appear in a scene in which she played Zachary Quinto’s ex girlfriend. Due to what the director and producer called “poor directorial work” during the shoot, the scene was cut off the film. It can be seen though in the Deleted Scene section of the DVD.
  • The CEO’s name, John Tuld, rhymes with the name of the ex-CEO of the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers, Richard S. Fuld. Lehman Brothers, like the firm in this film, found themselves catastrophically over-leveraged in mortgage-backed-securities in the financial crisis of 2008. They eventually declared bankruptcy, and Richard Fuld was heavily criticized for his involvement in these events.

Goofs: Factual errors: Finance institutes of that magnitude always have high profile security setups. No computer screen could be unlocked if the employee is away. Even if the person forget to lock it while leaving, the automated security settings would lock the screen after a defined period of time.

Plot: Follows the key people at an investment bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis. Full summary »  »

Story: A respected financial company is downsizing and one of the victims is the risk management division head, who was working on a major analysis just when he was let go. His protégé completes the study late into the night and then frantically calls his colleagues in about the company's financial disaster he has discovered. What follows is a long night of panicked double checking and double dealing as the senior management prepare to do whatever it takes to mitigate the debacle to come even as the handful of conscientious comrades find themselves dragged along into the unethical abyss.Written by Kenneth Chisholm (  


Synopsis: Junior employees Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) and Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) and senior trader Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) watch as a human resources team conducts mass layoffs on their trading floor. One of the fired employees is Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), who works in risk management. Before leaving, Dale gives Peter a USB drive with a project he had been working on, telling him to "be careful." That night, Peter finishes the project, and discovers that trading will soon exceed the historical volatility levels used by the firm to calculate risk. Because of overleverage, if the firm’s assets (in mortgage backed securities) decrease by 25%, the firm will owe more than its market capitalization. Sullivan alerts Emerson, who calls head of trading Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey).

The employees remain at the firm all night for a series of meetings with more senior executives, including Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) and head of risk Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), and finally CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons). Tuld reveals that his plan is simply to sell off all of the toxic assets before the market can react to the news of their worthlessness, thereby limiting the firm’s exposure. Rogers knows this will spread the risk throughout the financial sector and will destroy the firm’s relationships with its counterparties, who will never trust them again. The characters finally locate Dale, who had been missing after his company phone was turned off. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Rogers, Robertson, Cohen, and Tuld were somewhat aware of the risks. Tuld plans to offer Robertson’s resignation to the board and employees as a sacrificial lamb.

Before the markets open, Rogers tells his traders they will receive seven figure bonuses if they achieve a 93% reduction in certain MBS asset classes). He admits that the traders are effectively destroying their own jobs and careers, severing relationships with their clients. Meanwhile, Robertson and Dale sit in an office, being paid handsomely to do nothing. Emerson manages to sell off his assets, but his counterparties become increasingly agitated and suspicious, and the day wears on. Having successfully reached the 93% benchmark, Rogers watches the same human resources team begin another round of layoffs on his floor. He confronts Tuld, who remarks that the current crisis is really no different from any other, and sharp gains and losses are simply part of the game. He wants Rogers to stay at the firm for another two years, stating that there will be a lot of money to be made from the coming crisis. Rogers sees Sullivan meeting with Cohen about his imminent promotion.

In the final scene, Rogers digs a hole in his front yard to bury his dog who died of cancer in reference to Tuld’s comment that he could have been digging holes for his life.


FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Sean Akers known as associate producer
  • Robert Ogden Barnum known as producer
  • Michael Benaroya known as producer
  • Joshua Blum known as executive producer
  • Michael Corso known as executive producer
  • Kirk D'Amico known as executive producer
  • Neal Dodson known as producer
  • Cassian Elwes known as executive producer
  • Rose Ganguzza known as executive producer
  • Anna Gerb known as co-producer
  • Anthony Gudas known as executive producer
  • Daniel Hendler known as associate producer
  • Joe Jenckes known as producer
  • Lawrence M. Kopeikin known as associate producer
  • Susan Leber known as line producer
  • Randy Manis known as executive producer
  • Corey Moosa known as producer
  • Zachary Quinto known as producer
  • Laura Rister known as executive producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Kevin Spacey known as Sam Rogers
  • Paul Bettany known as Will Emerson
  • Jeremy Irons known as John Tuld
  • Zachary Quinto known as Peter Sullivan
  • Penn Badgley known as Seth Bregman
  • Simon Baker known as Jared Cohen
  • Mary McDonnell known as Mary Rogers
  • Demi Moore known as Sarah Robertson
  • Stanley Tucci known as Eric Dale
  • Aasif Mandvi known as Ramesh Shah
  • Ashley Williams known as Heather Burke
  • Susan Blackwell known as Lauren Bratberg
  • Maria Dizzia known as Executive Assistant
  • Jimmy Palumbo known as Security Guard
  • Al Sapienza known as Louis Carmelo
  • Peter Y. Kim known as Timothy Singh
  • Grace Gummer known as Lucy
  • Oberon K.A. Adjepong known as Coffee Guy (as Oberon K. Adjepong)
  • Jason Denuszek known as Stand-In
  • Matthew Walters known as Stand-In (as Matthew J. Walters)
  • Naeem Uzimann known as Trader (uncredited)
  • Steven Weisz known as Trader (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Fabiola Arancibia known as makeup artist: Ms. Moore
  • Erin Ayanian known as makeup design: Ms. Moore
  • Chris Clark known as hair department head
  • Lisa DelleChiaie known as key hair stylist
  • Mindy Hall known as makeup designer
  • Cassandra Keating known as makeup department head
  • Elizabeth Martinelli known as hair stylist: Demi Moore
  • Katherine O'Donnell known as key makeup artist
  • Jennifer Serio Stauffer known as hair stylist

Art Department:

  • Sarah Bricker known as shop foreman
  • Kenney Broadway known as art department intern
  • Patricia Colburn known as camera scenic artist
  • Michael Cory known as property master
  • Eddie DeCurtis known as foreman
  • Thomas A. Delillo known as leadman
  • Sean Haines known as assistant property master
  • Tara Kelly known as set dresser
  • Marissa Kotsilimbas known as art department coordinator
  • Ashley Leonard known as art department intern
  • Rebecca Perrenod known as charge scenic
  • Jimmy Prange known as assistant property master
  • Pierre Rovira known as construction coordinator
  • Carl Saccl known as assistant property master
  • Leonore Zydel known as set dresser
  • Paul Zydel known as foreman scenic
  • Tim Zydel known as set dresser




Production Companies:

  • Before The Door Pictures
  • Benaroya Pictures (presents)
  • Washington Square Films
  • Margin Call
  • Sakonnet Capital Partners (in association)
  • Untitled Entertainment

Other Companies:

  • Apple Computer  products provided by
  • Baker & Mckenzie  thanks
  • Blackberry  products provided by
  • Bloomberg L.P.  thanks
  • Blue Angel Vodka  products provided by
  • Bowery Hotel  thanks
  • Carnegie Mellon School Of Drama  thanks
  • Central Parking  thanks
  • City Of Rye, New York  thanks
  • Creative Artists Agency (CAA)  thanks
  • Creative Artists Agency (CAA)  the producers wish to thank
  • De Lane Lea  ADR recording
  • Dell  thanks
  • Dolby Laboratories  sound mix
  • Fortune Magazine  products provided by
  • Gotham Magazine  products provided by
  • Indiepay  payroll provided by
  • Lowell Hotel  thanks
  • Lugo Caffe  thanks
  • Money Magazine  products provided by
  • Moët-Hennessy Distribution  products provided by (as Moet Hennessy)
  • New York Police Department (NYPD)  thanks
  • New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture & Television Development  thanks
  • Offhollywood Digital  camera equipment provided by
  • Office Max  products provided by
  • One Penn Plaza  thanks
  • Post Haste Sound  commentary recording engineering
  • Red Bull  products provided by
  • Screen Actors Guild (SAG)  thanks
  • Sessions Payroll Management  extras payroll services
  • Sound One  post-production sound services
  • Star Struck Catering  catering
  • The Creative Coalition  thanks
  • United States Embassy, London  thanks
  • United Talent Agency (UTA)  thanks
  • Vornado Realty Trust  thanks
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotel  thanks
  • William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment  thanks


  • 01 Rai Cinema (2011) (Italy) (theatrical)
  • Alliance (2011) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Aurora (2011) (Ukraine) (theatrical)
  • Becker Entertainment (2011) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • Becker Group (2011) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • Cathay-Keris Films (2011) (Singapore) (theatrical)
  • Distribution Company (2011) (Argentina) (theatrical)
  • Gussi Artecinema (2011) (Mexico) (theatrical)
  • Koch Media (2011) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • Lighthouse Pictures (2011) (Singapore) (theatrical)
  • Lionsgate (2011) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Lumière Productie (2012) (Belgium) (theatrical)
  • Lumière (2011) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Monolith (2011) (Poland) (theatrical)
  • P4M (2011) (Yugoslavia) (theatrical)
  • P4m (2011) (Romania) (theatrical)
  • Praesens-Film (2011) (Switzerland) (theatrical)
  • Roadside Attractions (2011) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Spentzos Films (2011) (Greece) (theatrical)
  • Stealth Media Group (2012) (UK) (theatrical)
  • Svensk Filmindustri (2011) (Finland) (theatrical)
  • Top Film (2011) (Russia) (theatrical)
  • Eagle Films (2010) (non-USA) (all media) (Middle East)
  • Gussi Films (2011) (Mexico) (all media)
  • Midship (2012) (Japan) (DVD)
  • Panasia Films (2011) (China) (TV) (pay tv)
  • Pris Audiovisuais (2012) (Portugal) (all media)
  • STAR TV (2011) (Japan) (TV)
  • Shoval Film Production (2011) (Israel) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (Bangladesh) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (Bhutan) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (India) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (Maldives) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (Nepal) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (Pakistan) (all media)
  • Tanweer Films (2011) (Sri Lanka) (all media)
  • Tomson International Entertainment Distribution (2011) (Hong Kong) (all media)
  • Twin Co. Ltd. (2012) (Japan) (DVD)
  • Vicol Entertainment (2012) (Hong Kong) (DVD)
  • Vicol Entertainment (2012) (Hong Kong) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Videx International (2011) (Peru) (all media)



Other Stuff

Visual Effects by:
  • Jessica Elvin known as visual effects
  • Craig Ferrence known as digital imaging
  • Ari Levinson known as visual effects consultant
  • Daniel Silverman known as digital imaging
  • Jay Tilin known as visual effects

Release Date:

  • USA 25 January 2011 (Sundance Film Festival)
  • Germany 12 February 2011 (Berlin International Film Festival)
  • Switzerland 25 September 2011 (Zurich Film Festival)
  • Germany 29 September 2011
  • Russia 29 September 2011
  • Estonia 7 October 2011
  • Belgium 13 October 2011 (Gent International Film Festival)
  • Brazil 14 October 2011 (Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival)
  • Spain 21 October 2011
  • USA 21 October 2011 (limited)
  • Netherlands 2 November 2011 (Amsterdam Film Week)
  • Romania 4 November 2011
  • Netherlands 10 November 2011
  • Canada 11 November 2011 (limited)
  • Hong Kong 17 November 2011
  • Lithuania 18 November 2011
  • Turkey 18 November 2011
  • Brazil 9 December 2011
  • Greece 15 December 2011
  • Poland 26 December 2011
  • Singapore 29 December 2011
  • Ireland 13 January 2012
  • UK 13 January 2012
  • Brazil 18 January 2012 (DVD premiere)
  • Israel 19 January 2012
  • Belgium 25 January 2012
  • Japan 3 February 2012 (DVD premiere)
  • Hungary 8 March 2012
  • Portugal 8 March 2012
  • Argentina 15 March 2012
  • Australia 15 March 2012
  • Sweden 16 March 2012
  • France 2 May 2012
  • New Zealand 10 May 2012

MPAA: Rated R for language



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 29, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , .


  1. mgorman-6 from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    Saw this last night. Set at a Wall Street firm on the night in 2008when the leaders realize that changes in the market will wipe them outif they don't immediately stop selling the products that have beenmaking them all rich, the movie centers on the moral dilemma -recognized by some characters but dismissed by others – that they facein unwinding their positions, saving themselves but shifting the painto others.

    The movie finds a way to hold the mirror up to our civilization,showing how we are all complicit in a collective 'dream' (one charactersays at one point, in response to another who says he feels like he isin a 'dream', 'Funny, it seems like I just woke up'). The dream is theillusion of easy, risk-managed wealth that the financial marketsmanufacture, again and again, since the emergence of capital markets200 years ago, until the illusion morphs overnight into a panic.Reality intervenes, fear takes over, and the 'survivor' is the guy whofirst reaches the lifeboat. So there are no villains in this movie,just people, richly drawn, beautifully acted characters realized bysome of our best actors who relish the opportunity to show what theycan do given a killer script and enough screen time between lines toactually be the people they are portraying.

    Central to the movie's success:

    1) It gets across the essence of what is going on in the financialmarkets without bogging us down or dumbing it down

    2) finding a moral question that can be resolved in a night, yet whichis nevertheless a perfect allegory for the whole set of moral questionsraised by an economy that works the way ours does, rewarding falseconfidence, recklessness, and deceit as often as industry, skill, andintegrity

    3) the placement of young, innocent but perceptive characters at thecenter of the drama, who function as our eyes and ears, who are likestand-ins for all of us who weren't there, at the heart of the dreammachine, when the latest fantasy of easy wealth was exposed as acollective delusion

    4) really 'gets' the trader ethos and manner – they are a kind ofwarrior caste, foul-mouthed, impulsive, deeply selfish, surviving bytheir ability to outplay their counterparts, and yet living by awarrior code that sets boundaries on what they will and will not do toone another (having spent three years on Wall Street several panicsago, it rang as true as any movie I have seen on the subject)

    It's like Mamet, except you don't have to work as hard to figure outwhat everyone's up to. It's like Chinatown, except the 'crime' issomething far worse than molesting a single young girl. These guysf****d the entire planet, for Ch*****sake. It's like the best movieI've seen in a little while.

    What an incredibly sure hand from a director on his maiden voyage! Whois this guy? Whoever you are, please don't stop. I would pay a lot tosee what he could do with topics like 'the decision to go to war', or'the emergence of China/India/Brazil/Indonesia from poverty to globalplayer'. Hell I would go see him revive Mother Goose, after this debut.

    I'll calm down now. Enjoy.

  2. endecottp from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    Saw this at New Directors festival in NYC and really enjoyed and wasengrossed in this film. A great cast with splendid performances. Thefilm is very intense and although it is about a company involved in thefinancial meltdown of 2008, it really is about much more. Iparticularly liked the way the film depicts the frightening absoluteand ruthless power of the corporation over the lives of people thatwork there as well as the implications and ripples for everyoneelse.How those people get sucked in to the embrace, security andpleasures of what the corporations have to offer and the consequencesand vulnerabilities of those choices.The freedom and comforts that wecherish here in twenty first century USA are not as secure as we mightthink. Don't want to say much more, other than that "Margin Call" isvery involving and in the end affecting and thought provoking.It packsa powerful punch.

  3. philipp82 from Berlin
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    The movie "Margin Call" depicts the events that immediately precededthe Financial Crisis in 2008 within a nameless Investment Bank. What Ilike especially about the movie is the fact that it doesn't try toexplain the technical causes of the Financial Crisis but thepsychological causes – human failures, which are the real cause for theCrisis: greed, egotism, ignorance. Many scenes in this movie deal withvery little dialogue, instead the body language and the uniqueatmosphere speaks for itself. The ensemble is just brilliant,especially Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons.

    The movie works solely from inside the nameless firm – apart from minorsteps outside. It only portraits the people working inside this company- the "normal world" is completely left out. The effect is a veryclever one: The life of these bankers seems totally severed from theoutside world, they have no real connection with normal people and seemto – speaking exaggeratingly – lack an understanding of real humanvalues, that there could be more behind life than just maximizing andmaking money. They are completely left behind in their own world, whichsomehow got out of control. Even when the imminent truth reveals andthe consequences are becoming more clearer, it always feels like theyare cut off; there is a scene in a taxi with Quinto and Badgley thatunderlines this.

    But one can also witness the cold-blooded atmosphere in the systemitself, where every person could easily be mistaken as a number. A keyfigure of the film, Eric Dale, who gets sacked in the beginning, isconfronted with two managers in a scene like from "Up In The Air".Either are these women robots or have never experienced something likesocial warmth. One widely held position is that eventually bankersthemselves didn't understand their own system and products withDerivatives and Futures, etc. anymore. Almost hilarious, but sadly trueis the fact that many people in these companies seem to have nounderstanding of Economics and just got into their position due toinfluence or money. When they are sitting in their conference room anddiscuss the incident, it feels somewhat grotesque.

    Although this movie works almost completely without music, the tensionis so immense – thanks to the brilliant actors – that one is forced tofocus.

  4. kosmasp
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    While I am a big fan of Oliver Stone and I did enjoy his second WallStreet movie, I have to admit, that this one is superior in every way.Great acting talent at hand, great (unfortunately) real story, whichmight be a bit heightened for obvious reasons, but still very scary ifyou think about the whole thing.

    As stated above the actors make a big difference. They have to conveydecisions and stand by things that you shouldn't normally do. But thenagain it's not as if this didn't happen (one way or the other). Themovie also seems to have affected people since its original slatedrelease date got pushed forward. Festival releases (where I saw it too)and the general good response made that an easy decision. Watching thisshould be one too …

  5. Ed Uyeshima from San Francisco, CA, USA
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    Having been the victim of corporate downsizing more than once, I wasimmediately engaged with this propulsive 2011 corporate drama from thebeginning as Stanley Tucci's character, a seasoned risk managementexecutive named Eric Dale, is told in a coldly indifferent manner thathe is being laid off after 19 years with the same unnamed Wall Streetfirm. It's a piercing yet dramatically economical scene that perfectlysummarizes how bloodless the corporate world can be, and in first-timewriter/director J.C. Chandor's effort set on the eve of the 2008financial crisis , it is very cold indeed with 80% of the trading floorbeing let go. As Dale is escorted out of the building, he hands a flashdrive to his prodigious assistant Peter Sullivan and tells him to takea look at it and "Be careful."

    Once Sullivan analyzes the data, he realizes the universal gravity ofDale's warning – that the firm is so over-committed to underwatermortgage-backed securities that the total potential loss exceeds thefirm's total market capitalization value. In other words, the projectedscenario means the firm will soon owe a lot more than it's worth, andthe market will be on the verge of an apocalyptic meltdown. Whathappens after this discovery is a series of sharply intense clandestineconfrontations with each level of higher-ups recognizing theramifications of the inevitable disaster, each one far more nuanced incharacter than we are used to seeing in films from Oliver Stone aboutgreed and immorality. Blessedly, Chandor doesn't stoop to the customarystereotypes in this corporate cage match, but what he does manage iscapture the moral compass underneath each player by way of a cast thatreally delivers the goods with powerfully implosive performances.

    Zachary Quinto ("Star Trek") is initially at the center of the plot asSullivan and performs well enough in the constraining, semi-heroicrole, but the veterans really stand out here beginning with KevinSpacey, who effectively plays against type as Sam Rogers, a genuinecompany man, the seen-it-all head of the trading team who rallieswhat's left of the trading floor with corporate brio but then faces hisown cross to bear struggling to commandeer a fire sale of worthlessassets dumped on unsuspecting clients. The other standout is JeremyIrons, who masterfully resuscitates the cool cunning of his Claus vonBulow from "Reversal of Fortune" as the acerbically survivalist CEOJohn Tuld. He handily controls the boardroom scene with cutting humorand hostile precision. One of the film's more pleasant surprises isDemi Moore in cool, brisk form as Sarah Robertson, the top risk officerand lone female executive who knows her career is at stake with thediscovery of this folly. Tucci is excellent in his smallish role asDale and gets to show off his resigned character's engineering aptitudewith a brief monologue about building a bridge.

    Comparatively less impressive but playing their more predictable rolesfitfully are Penn Badgley as Sullivan's younger, overtly money-obsessedcolleague Seth Bregman; Paul Bettany as Dale's nihilistic, snake-oilsalesman of a boss, Will Emerson; and Simon Baker as the most morallydespicable executive of the bunch, Jared Cohen. Mary McDonnell has abrief and frankly unnecessary scene as Rogers' ex-wife, and I didn'teven recognize the usually hilarious Broadway personality SusanBlackwell as the hatchet woman in the opening scene. There are a fewflaws with Chandor's observant screenplay, for example, the overlyanalogous scenes of Rogers dealing with his dying dog and a rooftopscene that plays up Emerson's nihilistic nature too predictably. Inaddition, some scenes play either too murkily or too clinically toachieve the precise dramatic effect they should. I think the absence ofa musical score also contributes to the sterility of the proceedings.However, as a first-time filmmaker, Chandor more than impresses withhis deft handling of such a zeitgeist moment with the Occupy WallStreet protests gaining understandable momentum right now.

  6. ptg723 from Boston, United States
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    If you want to witness an acting clinic put on by an incrediblytalented ensemble cast, look no further than J.C. Chandor's take on thebeginnings of the 2008 financial crisis. The film follows an unnamedfirm, which awakens to the reality of the economic catastrophe that wasto come. The tense emotion of the situation was held steady by theensemble throughout the film. Bettany, Quinto, and Badgley, all turnedin superb performances, but it was Tucci, Spacey, and Irons that stoodout as excellent. It was witnessing the brink of a tragedy that drawsparallels to the 2006 film, "Flight 93" (minus the deep heartbreak "93"leaves us with). For "Margin Call", the storyline and setting may berepetitive but not enough to let you sit back and zone out.

  7. Fred M. Hung from New York, NY
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    It's difficult to review Margin Call. Those of us who were close to theevents of 2008 will find something personal in the story-telling.Others may see it as more examples of greed and hubris. In any case,the following observations apply to both groups.

    The performances are top notch. Everyone from Zachary Quinto to DemiMoore brings their A-game. Even supporting characters are oddly fleshedout for a film with such an ensemble cast. Kevin Spacey and PaulBettany give the performances of their careers, I think. Only theJeremy Irons character (John Tuld, aka Dick Fuld) feels a bit over thetop, while the rest are truly believable well-rounded depictions.

    Despite having good characters and amazing cinematography, the filmlacks plot. The backdrop and setting are tense, but this doesn't feellike a "movie" in the traditional sense. There's no evolution ofcharacters, no arcs, and the ending may leave some wanting. You cancompare it to Michael Mann films where plot and pace areunconventional.

    Not sure how the film will perform commercially, given the material isesoteric. If you're a film buff (and enjoy great performances) oryou've been in finance, this is a must-see. Other may likely pass.

  8. JvH48 from Netherlands
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    I saw this film as part of the Ghent filmfestival 2011. Itsannouncement promised an inside view in the financial industry, andparticularly how it could cause the recent financial crisis. Andprecisely this is what it did splendidly. I gave it a "very good"mark(5 out of 5) for the public prize competition when leaving the theater.

    I particularly liked the way they avoided the techno babble aboutfinancial products, from which we all learned the hard way to be paperconstructs only, none of these related with things in the real world.The story also clearly illustrates that higher echelons in thefinancial industry do not under­stand those technicalities either,something we assumed all along but didn't dare to ask for confirmation.

    Departing from the very different purposes and backgrounds of the maincharacters, the story line got us involved in the attempts of each ofthem to cope with the situation at hand. Though their job motivationsmay drastically differ from yours and mine, this film had no reallydistinct good and bad guys.

    The main characters were properly introduced in the time-line whenlogically needed. We got the chance to know each of them, with theirown coping behavior in this volatile environ­meant, yet every­onebringing along his own human characteristics. In the process we alsosaw the golden chains to attach each of them to the company, making itvirtually impossible to cut themselves loose from this line of work. Wemay call it greed, but it is a fact of life that everyone gets used toincoming cash flow, however large and unnecessary it may seem in oureyes. Once being there, it is logical to buy a bigger house and to sendkids to expensive schools. After that there is no easy way back, andeach one smoothly grows into a life style that is difficult to escapefrom.

    The story line as such is not that important, apart from the fact thatit succeeds very well in tying all the above together. It alsomaintains a constant tension all the time. I consider both aspects anachievement in itself, since nothing really happens in terms of deadbodies, physical fights, and chasing cars. Only a few short scenes wereshot outside, but all the rest happened in a standard office building.The final outdoor scene was a bit unexpected (I won't spoil it foryou), but it shows that even bankers are human after all.

  9. freecrafted from United States
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    So here goes my first review on IMDb.

    This is a movie for those that want to see the human element when aninvestment bank realizes their models are wrong and that they aresitting on a large amount of assets worth less than they are currentlymarked at.

    There are 2 errors that just about everybody is making about thismovie, though. The first is that this movie is about the September 2008financial crash. That is false. This movie is about the collapse of theCDO/MBS market in *2007*(what led to I-Banks going belly up in 08).That also didn't happen in 1 day(while there were some very bad days),it occurred over several months. Google "ABX Index" and select imagesand you'll see that for yourself. But for the interest of time andsimplicity "Margin Call" simplified the actions of firms over thoseseveral months into 1 day and the actions of dozens(if not hundreds) ofpeople into a handful which is understandable.

    The second error is that this nameless firm is one of the I-banks thatwent under or was sold like Lehman, Bear, Merrill, etc. The movie isclearly (in my mind at least) modeled after Goldman Sachs. The firstreason is because they are seen as the first I-bank to aggressively tryto scale back their exposure to MBS. The second reason would be aspoiler, but lets just say that Goldman is pretty aggressive at "makingway for new blood" relative to the others even though the moviesdepiction was way overblown.

    I think many will be happy to know that the amount of "inside lingo" iskept to a minimum, but that doesn't mean that you will be able tounderstand a handful of things mentioned without a pretty good cursoryknowledge of financial jargon. Don't worry though its not needed tounderstand the movie.

    For those that are looking for a story depicting causes of thefinancial crisis this movie isn't it. If your looking for a moviedepicting evil people conniving in a board room to screw over thepublic this isn't it.

    This movie is about an analyst who discovers that the volatilityassumptions in their MBS portfolio were false and that it could veryeasily take down the entire company. Its a movie depicting theincreasingly suspenseful and gripping atmosphere when a firm realizesthey are sitting on a large pile of illiquid assets worth less thanthey thought. Its a movie depicting the concern of particular playersthat their reputation will be shot when they are forced to market makeassets that will "kill the market" for MBS.

    Its a movie that depicts the actions of a firm "Sothat…they…may…survive."

    Acting was great. Direction was great. Script was decent! Watch thismovie if you want to understand the most accurate depiction so far ofthe types of characters inside Investment Banks during a scary period.

  10. elaineandjim from San Diego
    29 Mar 2012, 5:38 pm

    This film was a great follow up to Inside Job, which described the bigpicture and background of the 2008 fall of the investment industry.Margin Call zooms in on the workings and the actual down and dirtybusiness of one of the main (but unnamed) brokerage houses. This filmcaptured our attention and interest, while heightening our "concerns"over the reality portrayed. The agony and defeat of the hard working,loyal employees was displayed in their faces and body language, lendingto our empathy for the staff being "used", while abhorring thesituation. The twenty four hour workplace dilemma is told and carriedout realistically, with time flying for the totally engaged viewer.

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