Sunday’s Review 20: Margin Call


You may or may not have noticed but last week was a Review less Sunday. To make it up to you, I’m going to do, today, two reviews on the same movie. It’s not a pros and cons fight, just two pieces of my mind, thinking differently, but on the same subject.


1.     Tonight, I understood the crisis. Or not. Margin Call goes right into the heart of the economic crisis as it’s never been seen, at least by my humble eyes, before. Is that a good thing? (to see the heart of it, I mean) I don’t know. Because here seems to be the message: the crisis happened because, at this time, economy was entirely based on a pattern of speculations that didn’t make any sense and, thus, all our system shall be rethought. But this system is the way we live, it’s just not that simple to say “well, this is crap, let’s not do it”, we (I mean people with a normal sized brain) can’t figure out a new way to go. So, I guess that what I’m saying is, as long as I have to live this way, I don’t really want to know that it is a destructive fatal way to live. Well, all this spiel I just made is all this movie is about.

My first surprise in this movie was that I didn’t need more than 30 seconds to forget the goofy wannabe poet from Gossip Girl (Penn Bagdley), the mighty evil from Heroes (Zachary Quinto), the sexy mind-reader from The Mentalist (Simon Baker), the slaughterer angel from Legion (Paul Bettany) or the soon-to-be Ashton Kutcher’s ex-wife (Demi Moore). I immediately saw these ambitious workers caught up in the worst conceivable situation for their career. This movie is about survival and self-preservation instincts. It is also a question on what is going to destroy you or what isn’t.

They could easily have passed on the metaphoric death of Kevin Spacey’s dog. That was useless. Besides that, it’s a strong movie and I know most people will hate the ending but, actually, we all know how it ends.


2.     I suspected that Margin Call wouldn’t be so successful and, most of all, wouldn’t be as appreciated in the US than elsewhere. Box-offices showed me right. As a matter of fact, nearly 65% of grosses came from exportation. When, as an example, Moneyball (with Brad Pitt) had only 31.4% of its grosses coming from foreign countries. Why is that? First, I think US pride had difficulties accepting the demonstration of an enormous irreparable mistake coming from them. Then, the idea of an enclosed storyline, living again, hour per hour, a huge crisis didn’t tempt them very much, and I can understand that.

Having said that, the strength of this movie is in the screenplay (and that’s the Oscar academy recognized nominating J.C Chancor for the original screenplay category). It shows how slow the fell can be, even if it’s just in a few hours. This contradiction relies on the all mood of this movie. The waiting, the oppressing, harrowing wait can feel way worse than actually failing. It’s like falling from a building: it’s worse to know that you’re very quickly aiming to your inevitable death while falling, than to actually die when you land. And, here, the wait is made worse knowing that you are not the only one you made fall. Therefore, I wouldn’t say watching Margin Call is a pleasant moment. But it’s only because it’s well written and that the story is unpleasant.

It’s well directed and played, for a story which is as much an interesting gazing-stock as a massive human failure. I can understand the attraction as well as the repulsion it can arouse. Anyway, we may salute an as-always brilliant Kevin Spacey.



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