Margin Call (2011)

Margin Call
Director: J. C. Chandor
Writer: J. C. Chandor
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Penn Badgley, Mary McDonnell
Part of: Viennale

Peter (Zachary Quinto) and Seth (Penn Badgley) are junior risk managers in a flagging investment bank. During a round of mass firings, their senior risk manager Eric (Stanley Tucci) is let go as well. Eric gives Peter a flash drive before he leaves and tells him to look at the things on there. Peter does and discovers a major crisis approaching. He tells his boss Will (Paul Bettany), who tells his boss Sam (Kevin Spacey) and soon the entire investment bank is struggling to get a handle on the situation.

The film had an interesting and different perspective. Add that cast to it and it has all the right ingredients to be brilliant. But somehow, it just doesn’t work out that way.

I thought that the approach of showing the investment banks as actual companies, with more and less good people in it who mostly try their best, instead of showing them as black pools of pure evil was extremely nice for a change and made the whole thing much more realistic.

Even though J. C. Chandor obviously tried to explain the crisis to the layman (on three different occasions characters in the film said “explain to me in plain English”), he unfortunately failed. It certainly didn’t increase my knowledge of the whole thing, it just confused me further. [Though that might also have been the effect of Zachary Quinto’s eyebrows which were weirdly shaped/plucked/generally disconcerting.]

Sometimes the script got a little funny – involuntarily, that is. It is always difficult when a movie takes itself so seriously and there where moments where I couldn’t help snorting. [Though nothing beat the German subtitles. That was a completely different movie we got to read.]

The movie had many good points – like Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany’s looks, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany’s charm, Stanley Tucci – but in the end it was a little stale. It was just a prime example for wasted potential.

Summarising: should have been much better than it actually was.


  1. Boooooring.

    If I might add two more highlights to complete your list:
    Simon Baker, Paul Bettany’s car (duh ^^), and Kevin Spacey’s conversation with gratuitous Mary McDonnell’s gratuitous cleavage.

    Also, boooooooooooooooooooooooring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.