Blu-ray Review: Underappreciated ‘Margin Call’ Deserves Larger Audience

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CHICAGOJ.C. Chandor’s CFCA-nominated “Margin Call” is the kind of film that makes me concerned about the lack of mainstream audience for adult drama. There’s no reason at all that this excellent drama with several major actors shouldn’t have found a much-larger audience. Lionsgate needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what’s going on with their marketing and promotions since it’s total nonsense that a critically-acclaimed work like this and their even-better “Warrior” both flopped at the box office. “Warrior” was at least given a chance. “Margin Call” never went beyond 199 screens. So you probably haven’t seen it. You should. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

I’ve always been a sucker for dramas that attempt to take large issues and break them down on a smaller level. Such is the attempt of “Margin Call,” a film that dares to turn the financial bubble burst of 2008 into a human story as it follows one company and its employees on what could arguably be called the most important night of their lives. We’ve learned about the long-lead mistakes made by companies, our government, and regulators from great documentaries like “Inside Job,” but the human angle of the story has never been more dramatically realized than in Chandor’s film. He smartly recognizes that small decisions and crucial mistakes were often being made hour-by-hour as bubbles burst and companies collapsed. What could these people have done differently? And how much did they realize their decisions would still be impacting us years later?

Margin Call
Margin Call
Photo credit: Lionsgate

The entirety of “Margin Call” takes place over a short period of time. A financial analyst (Stanley Tucci) at a major company basically stumbles upon proof that the imminent downsizing, which will include his own firing, is just the start of a landslide. The company has been operating in dangerous waters for sometime and they’re about to pay the price. As he’s being escorted out, he passes the proof along to a young employee (Zachary Quinto), who shows it to a colleague (Penn Badgely), who agrees they should call their boss (Paul Bettany) back in and so on and so on up the ladder until everyone at the company, including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, and Simon Baker has been sucked into a night of the biggest decisions of their life.

Margin Call was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20th, 2011
Margin Call was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20th, 2011
Photo credit: Lionsgate

Not only does Chandor prove to have a notable consistency of tone for a debut director, he draws some stellar performances from his A-list cast. Spacey hasn’t been this rich in a drama in years. Bettany matches him. And Irons is stellar. Even the young players like Quinto don’t seem out of their league. It’s rare to see an ensemble this consistent, especially from a debut director. It proves he’s got an ability to get a whole team on the same page. And he’s got a strong visual sense to match it. Well-paced, smart, and consistently engaging, “Margin Call” may not be the most obvious Christmas season rental but it would be a gift if future years produced more movies like it.

Set in the high-stakes world of Wall Street, Margin Call is an entangling thriller involving the key players at an investment firm during the earliest hours of the 2008 financial crisis. When an entry-level analyst unlocks information that could prove to be the downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult hte lives of all involved to the brink of disaster.

Special Features:
o Director and Producer Feature Commentary
o Revolving Door
o Making Margin Call
o Missed Calls: Moments with Cast and Crew
o From The Deck: Photo Gallery
o Deleted Scenes and Optional Commentary

“Margin Call” stars Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci. It was written and directed by J.C. Chandor. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20th, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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