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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tightly focussed and compelling
I saw this corporate drama last month in New York, just after attending a conference about managing financial risk (which, coincidentally, is one of the film's themes). The head of risk at the bank in this story is played by Demi Moore, who acquits herself well in a very strong ensemble alongside Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, and others. Based on the...
Published on 16 Dec 2011 by Jeremy Walton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Margin Call
This began off as being a great film. I bought it as I enjoy Kevin Spacey, but found it had a strange ending. I would say that it is an O.K. film
Published 5 months ago by Winston


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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tightly focussed and compelling, 16 Dec 2011
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
I saw this corporate drama last month in New York, just after attending a conference about managing financial risk (which, coincidentally, is one of the film's themes). The head of risk at the bank in this story is played by Demi Moore, who acquits herself well in a very strong ensemble alongside Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, and others. Based on the events at the start of the financial meltdown of 2008, the film isn't so much about the technical details about what it meant for a bank's assets to be suddenly realised to be worthless, but wisely concentrates instead on the human drama as the characters react to the disaster, and try and deal with it.

Beginning with Zachary Quinto's careful, respectful junior analyst who uncovers the problem, the viewer is drawn into an escalating series of encounters with his superiors, which culminates in a board meeting helmed by the bank's authoritative, adept CEO played by Jeremy Irons. This is a brilliantly nuanced portrayal by Irons: just watch the way he tries to calm the analyst's nerves with a self-deprecating remark whilst he testily flicks at the corner of his damning report. He's also compellingly watchable in his meetings with the experienced, exhausted trading manager (another compelling performance by Kevin Spacey), and in a short encounter with Demi Moore, whom he effectively crushes in spite of her brave attempts at resistance.

Filmed on a limited budget over a few weeks (mostly in an office in a midtown Manhattan high-rise which had recently been vacated by a trading firm), the camera is closely focussed on the actors and what they have to say. Since they're so skilled, and the story is so compelling (even though we think we already know what's going to happen), the result is a richly satisfying viewing experience.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really took me by surprise, awesome movie!, 1 Oct 2012
This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
I must say for some reason I wasn't expecting too much from Margin Call despite the awesome cast. I guess I'm angry with the banks and financial companies for what they did and didn't think I'd enjoy watching what went wrong in 2007/8. But I was wrong, the movie blew me away much more than any I can think of for ages. It seems to be very much based on the Lehman Brothers fall but it's not explicitly mentioned to be so. The film reminded me very much of what I liked about The Firm, the original Wall Street and has the general feel of the similar feeling (and also excellent) Michael Clayton. The film gets straight into the action as people are getting fired and builds quickly into the looming threat of the crisis. The direction is very subtle so you really believe what you are seeing and the awesome array of acting talent mean you are really rooting for many of the characters despite what they do for a living. The script and dialogue are both excellent with a Glengarry Glenross feel to a lot of the exchanges. There is one moment that sums up how subtle it is for me. Demi Moore's character is being given some bad news and without even blinking or moving her eyes the slightest bit you can see something die inside her, it's really quite amazing big screen acting and there is not one false note here to be found. If you enjoy very well acted thrillers then give Margin Call a try ASAP, it will also teach a bit more about how these idiots wrecked our economy! Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corporations are amoral, 18 May 2014
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Margin Call [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Other reviews have described the film fairly well; I wanted to comment on the themes.
For me the narrative of the movie is about how its principal players are concerned only by the prosperity of their corporation (played out very well with a sterling cast of actors). There is no sense, or effort shown for the public good. In essence, the message here is that Corporations are amoral, and their existence owes its need to survive and succeed, at any cost. As the cast, play out their respective roles there is reflection, they reflect on the enormity of what is happening: For their company and their lives are being rendered meaningless. While the movie does not depict any one single financial event, or any one financial institution, however, there are `threads' that link this `fictional' account into the real world. This can be exemplified by the 2008 financial crisis: Goldman Sachs and the organisation's efforts to move early to reduce its position in mortgage-backed securities.

A film with no CGI, car chases or amazing fighting sequences. However, it has tension - the frailties of loyalties betrayed. A film that is really worth seeing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars film making for the kickstarter generation, 10 Sep 2014
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
This is film making for the kickstarter generation, smart, intelligent with lots of confident swagger. It follows on the American tradition of Death of a Salesman, and Glengarry Glen Ross, with a moral quandary flung at some company men. It is a variation of what must have happened at big financial companies like Lehman Brothers, as the recent financial crisis started to unravel, do you dump your stock on your neighbour, or tough it out to avoid creating a bigger crisis.

Although this is stylishly shot, with a top notch cast, there is relatively little eye candy, so it will not appeal to the popcorn crowd. It is however thoughtful, consistently engaging and well informed. You do get the feeling that this is what it would be like at one of these institutions. The technical detail does not entirely stack up, why would an analyst be hanging around the trading room, and how would selling stock at a knock down price help your capital adequacy ratio, but these are forgivable niggles.

There are a couple of compromises, the characters are all portrayed fairly sympathetically, for shallow overpaid traders, and having Kevin Spacey with his sick dog as a moral centre felt a bit contrived. However for those interested in the financial crisis, this is well worth a watch.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I DON'T HEAR THE MUSIC, 27 Aug 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
I saw a Kevin Spacey interview where he claims the practices in "Margin Call" are still going on today. This review contains some early plot synopsis for those who may have some trouble with the Wall Street jargon. The film appears to be about a fictional investment firm at the start of the 2008 financial crisis.

The drama opens with an investment bank downsizing. An outside agency has been hired to do the layoffs. We see sad scenes of people being tapped and escorted out. This company laid off much of its middle level management layers and kept the worker bees. Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), a big boss is visibly upset. He has a bottle of Pepto-Bismo on his desk. His Chocolate Lab is dying. Spacey is spending $1,000 a day to keep his dog alive. While he appears to be reviving his role in "Horrible Bosses" we later find out he is our closest thing to a good guy.

One of the laid off mid-level bosses, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) hands off a thumb drive to Seth Bregman (Zachary Quinto) who burns the midnight oil going over the data. Bregman panics at the numbers. The volatility index (VI) indicates the company will incur losses that will greatly exceed its total assets. The firm goes into panic mode. The company holds bad assets known as derivatives which is nothing more than pieces of various risk mortgages lumped together. If they attempt to dump them all, without buying, people will suspect something is up and won't buy their assets. If they wait too long to dump them, the fear is someone else will figure out what is going on and beat them to the punch. They are between the proverbial "rock and a hard place."

This sets the wheels in motion as the CEO is notified that the company may collaspe.

Penn Badgley views their job as legalized gambling. They make $250,000 a year crunching numbers and think their bosses who make $2.5 million a year are obscenely overpaid. Jeremy Irons plays the stereotypical CEO who doesn't seem knowledgeable about their product.

Now in spite of the fact this is dealing with issues beyond most people's lives, everyone one of us knows the results of an economy crash. The actors did a superb job holding our interest in the film as each person handles the stress differently.

What will the investment firm do to survive? As things get ugly, the drama becomes more interesting.

F-bomb, no sex or nudity. Rare film that has strippers and Demi Moore in which she is not one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Margin Call, 27 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
This began off as being a great film. I bought it as I enjoy Kevin Spacey, but found it had a strange ending. I would say that it is an O.K. film
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into the human elements of a financial crisis, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
This film does not attempt to explain how the global financial crisis had occurred. So if you are looking to learn about the specific causes of the 2008 crisis should look elsewhere.

However, this film does a very good job of capturing the sort of personalities you may encounter in an investment banking environment, and the way these people think and act. The dynamics between different personalities, many of whom can be labelled as dysfunctional, as depicted in the film are entirely credible. It provides an insight for those outside the industry as to how a financial crisis can occur, based on the types of people that thrive in that environment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'SURVIVAL AT ALL COSTS', 1 Mar 2014
By 
rbmusicman (U.K) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Margin Call [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Must admit I missed this film when released on Blu-ray/DVD, I usually pick-up
on 'Kevin Spacey' movies.
(Saw a trailer when watching a movie a couple of days back)
The film is set in the 'dog eat dog' world of business dealings (stocks and shares)
on 'Wall Street' where money can be gained or lost with a blink of an eye.
During the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis, an operative unlocks information
that could finish the firm.
After an all night consultation when the seriousness of the situation is realized, a
frantic race to advert financial melt-down is triggered.
The team have to hold their nerve, having a conscience won't help.
A terrific cast list including 'Kevin Spacey' 'Paul Bettany' 'Jeremy Irons' 'Demi Moore'
and (Mr Spock) 'Zachary Quinto' are on board.
This movie is a 'spell-binding' 'Tense' and 'absorbing' finance driven drama....well
worth a spin
Special Features:--
* Audio Commentary: with director 'J.C.Chandor' and 'Ned Dudson'
* Deleted Scenes with optional commentary.
* Revolving Door: The making of 'Margin Call'
* Missed Calls: Moments with cast and crew.
* From the Deck: Photo Gallery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATIONAL, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
Merchant banking ceased to be a profession for honourable gentlemen (my word is my bond) 40 years ago and this film, like the Wall Street genre, drives the message home. Superb acting from Jeremy Irons. Good entertainment but also a sobering insight into the parallel universe of merchant banking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - the most accurate depiction of the Street you will ever see, 28 Mar 2013
This review is from: Margin Call [DVD] (DVD)
I have experience in this industry and this is the most accurate depiction of the people that are involved in it that you will ever see. The movie is an intense, gripping, slow-burn tale of the moral grey areas of the financial world.

This movie does not present stupid charactures of egotisitcal Wall Street sharks always out to kill their competitors.
It shows the dilemma that all sales people and traders face - whatever industry they work in - that people you deal with in the market are often both your friends and the people that you profit from. If you find yourself with a warehouse full of bad stock do you sell to people that you have dealt with for years or do you go bust?

It presents a picture of people in the industry who are fundamentally as honest and decent as the next man, but are faced with tough choices in a competitive industry that has a steep curve of big financial rewards and brutal dismissal.

The cast is magnificient. It goes without saying that Kevin Spacey is superb. Paul Bettany is spot on as the likeable but brutally direct and honest senior trader (this performance almost makes up for Ganster No 1). Jeremy Irons is fantasic as the charming and ruthless CEO. Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto and Stanley Tucci are excellent too.
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Margin Call
Margin Call by J.C. Chandor (DVD)
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