Director J.C. Chandor makes his debuts in the film world with Margin Call; a realistic approach at the financial crisis. Margin Call is shockingly interesting given the subject matter due to the team of fine actors Chandor has assembled. Kevin Space, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto and a few other familiar faces populate the film, giving you more than one perspective on how it all went down. The 24 hour time frame helps convey the downright depressing last hours before it all went to shit.
Margin Call follows an investment firm during the 24 hours leading up to the financial crisis of 2008. Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is a risk analyst who like many was let go from the firm. On his way out he passes an important set of files to Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto). Peter deciphers the files and realizes that the firm is about to experience a financial crisis. He takes his findings to Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), who takes it even higher to Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), who takes it even higher to Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) and John Tuld (Jeremy Irons).
The group holds a meeting, outlining the precautions that must be taken and the dreadful outcome that is for sure to follow. Margin Call isn’t Wall Street; it’s better. It’s much more focused and grounded. It doesn’t show the cool side of being involved in the financial world; instead it opts for the realistic approach. It’s a tightly made look at what exactly goes on during these types of situations. What makes it work so well is J.C. Chandor‘s direction. He takes the story and fills it full of unique characters, all with different perspectives.
Zachary Quinto is the optimistic young analyst that’s amazed at what he’s found and hoping everyone makes it out alive. Kevin Spacey is the seasoned 30 year man with the firm that knows what’s going to happen, but wants to do the right thing despite of what that really means. Paul Bettany is the realist who doesn’t take pride in doing some dirty work, but at the same time knows it has to be done and Simon Baker and Jeremy Irons play the big shots with no remorse.
Chandor fills Margin Call up to the top with top notch performers, all willing to shed some light on the different things that would go through peoples mind during a situation like this. Each person provides a respectable performance that’s both depressing and honest. Kevin Spacey does the best with his role, but that’s mainly because there’s more focus on his character. The rest of the cast has no problems keeping up.
I’ve never cared all that much about the subject at hand, but Chandor presents Margin Call in such a straight forward way. It sheds some light on what’s exactly happening and while some of the mathematical stuff may escape my brain I was still able to grasp the gravity of the situation. The way the camera constantly follows around the cast without deviating too far from the matter at hand is refreshing. The focus is never lost and the message is always coming across loud and clear.
Margin Call is one of the most interesting films I’ve seen this year and that came as a shocking surprise to me. The performances are all top shelf quality and the story never staggers or gets caught up in too much Wall Street lingo to confuse even the most average of film watchers. J.C. Chandor‘s first film is an impressive one and makes him one director to keep an eye on.
Lionsgate provides Margin Call with a smooth and crisp 1080p video transfer. The film was shot digitally and it’s noticeably clean because of it. The range of colors isn’t all that impressive due to the setting of the majority of the film, but the transfer is full of fine detail. Black and blue suits have never looked so clean before!
The film comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that may at first underwhelm, but will in time become appreciated. This is a dialogue heavy film, which means the speakers won’t be loud and full of excitement, but the mix effectively recreates the film scene by scene. When the characters take the action outside into the streets of New York the back channels open up with surrounding effects, but when the characters are inside the dialogue comes across clear. Given the nature of the film the track isn’t going to be something that you’ll be praising over, but it’s faithful to the source.
Margin Call comes to Blu-Ray with a few short supplements that aren’t nearly as engrossing as the film. Check them out below.
- Audio Commentary with Director J.C. Chandor and Producer Neal Dodson
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Revolving Door: Making Margin Call (HD)
- Missed Calls: Moments with Cast and Crew (HD)
- From the Deck: Photo Gallery (HD)
I was overly impressed with Margin Call and how it managed to take such a boring subject and inject it with some high stakes intensity. The film features one of the most impressive ensemble casts of the year without a doubt and they all provide high quality performances. Director J.C. Chandor captures the busy New York nightlife at an investment firm like no one really has before. He takes a subject that most don’t care about (but should) and makes a film worth checking out.
Margin Call sits confidently on my list of top films of 2011. I enjoyed the film on Blu-Ray as much as I did when I saw it in theaters. The Blu-Ray disc comes with a soft, but clean 1080p video transfer and an audio track that’s faithful to the style of film. The special features are short and quick, not offering much more. I strongly recommend the film as a rental for those on the fence about it. It’s a solid purchase if you’re into well-made drama’s that rely on dialogue heavy scenes instead of expensive action.
Margin Call sits confidently on my list of top films of 2011, it takes a subject that most don't care about (but should) and turns it into a film that's well worth checking out.