Almer S. Tigelaar

A Little Bit of Everything

Margin Call

Margin Call is a film about risk taking in the financial market and the consequences for people working in that sector. Not a very popular topic for filmmakers and moviegoers alike. Nevertheless, it features an all-star cast, but do they deliver?

First of all: don’t expect a lot of excitement and explosions. Although marketed as a thriller, Margin Call really is a drama. The financial system is not easy to understand, not even for insiders as is suggested in the movie – Jeremy Irons’s character, the head honcho, remarks: “I don’t get any of this stuff.” – Nevertheless, the filmmakers do succeed in making things understandable even for people without a degree in finance, but whether a financial melt-down excites you is a matter of personal taste.

Most of Margin Call isn’t really about money at all. It’s more about how people treat each other when the going gets though. The movie starts out with massive lay-offs at an investment firm, with cold and clinical severances, and then progresses towards an even bleaker scenario once it becomes obvious that a complete collapse is imminent. The situation is complicated by the fact that a key employee, with insights into the cause of this foreshaded collapse, was fired during the initial lay-off.

The movie believably portrays how problems bubble up from the bottom to the upper echelons of such companies, to what tricks they resort to motivate their people, and how little they really value their human capital. It contains a lot of subtle criticism on Wall Street, such as the fact that they employ talented engineers and scientists, who could have otherwise made a more concrete contribution to society.

Margin Call is made believable by its excellent cast with impressive roles in particular by Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons. Despite its relatively slow pace, the movie doesn’t drag. Nevertheless, some characters would have benefited from a richer depiction of their background.

Overall, Margin Call is recommended if you are either working in, or have some interest in, financial markets. For others the subject matter might be too dry to be exciting. Despite its fairly narrow appeal, Margin Call is a good drama in its own right.


IMDB | Wikipedia

Trailer hosted by YouTube, Copyright © 2011 Before the Door Pictures
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