Margin Call

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(out of 5)


The final scene of Working Girl has Melanie Griffith triumphing over adversity by getting an entry-level job as one of the billions of drones occupying offices on Wall Street. It’s hard not to recall that ending with pain while watching the opening of Margin Call, as that triumph is smashed to pieces when a powerful financial company is one of the many Wall Street firms clearing out of the majority of its employees to stay above the economic downturn. The eventual crash is personified with dramatic vigour in this drama by first-time director J.C. Chandor, featuring as a low-level account manager who, on the day that his boss  is fired, is handed a file that his superior had been working on before being let go. Quinto crunches some numbers, solves a formula and realizes that the company is in the most serious trouble it has ever been in; in fact, it is hemorrhaging losses so badly that they have actually been over and done with as a business days ago, and their failure is one that could sink the entire country (if not the world). Emergency meetings are called in the middle of the night, the big boss () is flown in by helicopter while senior analysts  and  (not as feisty as he was in Working Girl) and higher up officers and  scramble to save themselves before even bothering to save the company. The irony is in the outcome, but there’s no point in spoiling that; it is enough to say that the film is a refreshing, sometimes humorous, always invigorating look at the nucleus of an economic meltdown that hits hard without being shrill or judgmental. The characters are all as much the perpetrators as they are the victims, and the atmosphere is pungent with the failures of excess: one actually feels like they have been staying up all night with these people. Performances are all strong, particularly a decidedly oily Irons and, in a lovely and too brief cameo,  as what is possibly the only sympathetic human being in the entire thing.


, , , ,

USA, 2011

Directed by

Screenplay by J.C. Chandor

Cinematography by

Produced by , , , , ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 2011

Gotham Awards 2011

Independent Spirit Awards 2011.  

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