The superb new movie "Margin Call," which has opened in a few theaters and is set for wide release, perfectly captures the more unsavory aspects of the corporate environment in which I once worked. (I saw the film in a small theater in New York City this weekend.) Business, and more specifically finance, is a real vocation for many good people and serves an important function in the economy, but the occasional egocentrism, the overwhelming emphasis on the bottom line and the sometimes ruthless ethos of those at the top in the world of high finance, are perfectly captured in the new film. As are the effects of that ethos on the rest of society. "Margin Call" focuses on a fictional firm loosely based on Lehman Brothers, at the beginning of the collapse of 2008. Kamaria B. Porter, who works at Christ the King Jesuit Prep in Chicago and writes about film and culture at myfilmhabit.tumblr.com, is our reviewer.
The producers of the new financial thriller “Margin Call” could not have picked a better time to release their film. In New York and beyond, people are taking to the streets to condemn the actions of financial firms just like the one dramatized by writer/director J.C. Chandor in his debut feature. As picket signs declare “We are the 99 percent,” “Margin Call” peeks behind the curtain on the so-called 1 percent, with a story that explores how selfishness propelled the 2008 credit crisis.
We begin with Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), the first victim of a mass firing at a fictional firm loosely based on Lehman Brothers. He handles his firing with patience, spiked with feelings of betrayal. Before he is escorted from the building, Dale hands a portable drive containing some suspicious data to Peter Sullivan, a whiz-kid analyst played by Zachary Quinto, warning him to be careful. A few hours later, Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), the manager of their floor, addresses the few remaining members of his team, encouraging them to keep working despite the mass firing and to seize the opportunity to get ahead. Rattled but relieved, the traders convene at a bar to celebrate not being fired, leaving Peter to study the mysterious flash drive.
Read the rest here.
James Martin, SJ