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Margin Call (2011)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 154
Fresh: 136
Rotten: 18

Critics Consensus: Smart, tightly wound, and solidly acted, Margin Call turns the convoluted financial meltdown of '08 into gripping, thought-provoking drama.

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 42
Fresh: 38
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: Smart, tightly wound, and solidly acted, Margin Call turns the convoluted financial meltdown of '08 into gripping, thought-provoking drama.


Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 17,934


Movie Info

Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, Margin Call is an entangling thriller involving the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages 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 the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster. Writer/director J.C. Chandor's enthralling first … More

R (for language)
Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
J.C. Chandor
In Theaters:
Dec 20, 2011
Box Office:
Roadside Attractions - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Margin Call

All Critics (155) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (136) | Rotten (18) | DVD (5)

Chandor proffers a cross-section of a Lehman Brothers-esque company as the realisation dawns that sub-prime speculation has brought the market to an ominous tipping point.

Full Review… | January 10, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Carefully crafted performances and taut pacing carry the day.

Full Review… | November 29, 2011
Top Critic

Topical drama about the financial crisis lacks the visceral punch to grab an audience.

Full Review… | November 11, 2011
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

A methodical, coolly absorbing boardroom thriller.

Full Review… | November 11, 2011
Top Critic

Spacey is mesmerizing as Sam, a weary, aging lion losing his appetite for antelope. And Irons plays the villain with magisterial ease.

Full Review… | November 11, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

It's a realistic take on what happens when high-flying money speculators suddenly hit ground. It's also a great calling card for J.C. Chandor, the writer/director making his feature debut.

Full Review… | November 11, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Margin Call is Wall Street for now. That a sexy Gordon Gekko-type villain is no longer anywhere to be found shows just how much worse things really are today.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014

A well-told and credible look at the economic collapse from the perspective of one company's employees.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

Gets the little details right, the way everyone is one bad week away from being homeless, the way you can have a conversation with a colleague with the cleaning lady standing in between you and no one will ever even acknowledge that she's there.

Full Review… | June 22, 2013

A Wall Street version of 'Glengarry Glen Ross' in which the weak are whisked aside and the alpha dogs stick around long enough to fill their pockets with millions of other people's money.

Full Review… | May 26, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

In Margin Call, first time writer-director JC Chandor creates a humanizing insight into the lives of the bankers who discovered the fall of the economy.

Full Review… | February 11, 2013
We Got This Covered

Maybe the financial collapse went down something like this...

Full Review… | December 31, 2012
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Wily humor and sly observations about the lives of these high rollers are the highlights... It's when those give way to issues of morality that the film disappoints, just a little...

Full Review… | November 13, 2012
Flick Filosopher

At times, the film becomes just a series of static, over-determined conversations held in lofty offices and gleaming toilets.

Full Review… | November 8, 2012
The Skinny

Margin Call can't beat the street, missing the mark in a major way given the massive expectations.

Full Review… | October 22, 2012

Es casi imposible identificarse con alguno de los personajes. Y el director y guionista lo sabe, por eso dota a su ópera prima de una tensión propia de un thriller, y de una mirada cínica y desencantada.

Full Review… | May 20, 2012
Uruguay Total

This is Chandor's triumph, and marks him out as someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Full Review… | May 10, 2012

Margin Call's a tightly scripted, intensely acted, skillfully directed, character piece that illuminates the depths of moral and ethical corruption at the epicentre of western capitalist society.

Full Review… | April 26, 2012
2UE That Movie Show

Intelligently written and brilliantly portrayed, Margin Call delves into the belly of the beast where consequence is given no conscious and the line between good vs evil is blurred amongst a sea of numbers.

Full Review… | March 17, 2012
Matt's Movie Reviews

Taut Wall Street drama takes an inside look at financial and human meltdown.

Full Review… | March 13, 2012

With a script void of shouting matches and preachy monologues, J.C. Chandor makes the brave decision not to demonise these characters.

Full Review… | March 12, 2012
ABC Radio Brisbane

[It] gives us villains that, rather than being sympathetic, are well-argued and reasonable. It gives us heroes that, whilst idealistic, make immoral choices for their own betterment. Margin Call is complex, fury-inspiring, and thoughtful.

Full Review… | March 12, 2012

What makes it engaging is that the Oscar nominated screenplay explores the people who make the decisions from a moral point of view. And finds them wanting.

Full Review… | March 11, 2012
Urban Cinefile

It's a fascinating film that reveals much about its characters and provides food for thought for all of us who live in a capitalist society. Greed may be good for the avaricious but it's sure as hell ugly when it comes at any cost

Full Review… | March 11, 2012
Urban Cinefile

Smart, sharp and dark, J C Chandor's ensemble drama - eliciting defined, defiant performances from an A-grade cast - summons the spirit of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.

Full Review… | March 11, 2012
The Sun Herald

Chandor underplays the human drama and the anonymity of the Wall Street office building so much it risks slipping into doldrums, but the stakes are too great and the actors too sharp to let that happen.

Full Review… | February 19, 2012
Parallax View

Audience Reviews for Margin Call


A re-telling of the 2008 financial crisis that casts it as Greek tragedy and very nearly respects the three classical unities, covering one main action (the collapse of this firm's solubility), one main physical space (the office, though it does branch out a little, to a car, a bar and a porch), and lasting not more than 24 hours. The ensemble cast is excellent, the mood is dark, the events are totally believable, the stakes are high, and on top of all that, there's a speech that, in my opinion, supplants Gordon Gecko's "Greed is good" in Oliver Stone's Wall Street, which I watched after this and found lacking in comparison. One of the more underrated films of the past few years - hard-hitting, essential viewing.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

"I liked the movie. I thought the cast was excellent as well as most of the acting. I think some characters were not needed (cough, cough, Penn Badgley). I also thought the film was extremely boring at times. I only saw the movie for the cast and wanted to see them all act together. I think they all did a great job. The story is interesting, but it really starts losing steam quite fast. It's not something I would see again."


Super Reviewer


Great actors, decent plot, but I would not classify this movie as a "thriller." It was interesting, but I found myself waiting for something thrilling to happen, and it never did. It was, however, very intriguing for the most part. Unfortunately, it seems to all fizzle at the end. Another movie where they weren't sure how to end it?? Hate that....

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Sam Rogers: This is what the beginning of a fire sale looks like. 

"Be First. Be Smarter. Or Cheat."

Margin Call was much more entertaining then I thought possible. The initial plot summary of the film was enough to interest me, but I didn't think I would love it as much as I did. The movie has a tenseness about it, and the actors bring all the tension to the screen through their wonderful performances. 

This is a smart film about the beginning of the financial crisis. When an analyst finds a problem, an investment bank goes to work to see how they can solve this. Well, not really solve it, but only make it better for them. The film covers about a 24 hour period from when the investment bank let's a lot of workers go to the "fire sale" that takes place.

The best part of the movie was definitely the acting. There is an impressive ensemble cast at work here, with big names that include: Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci. There's also a good number of familiar faces, but not familiar names. All these actors give pretty good performances and make the most out of the movie. Without a cast that would absolutely bring it, this would have probably been a pretty boring and dry movie. The dryness of the business is left out though because the writing is designed for these actors to do what they do best. 

Margin Call is a film that deserves at least one viewing. It's entertaining, it's smart, and it's well made. It may not sound like a fun viewing experience, but in actuality, it really is. The hour and forty minute runtime flew by and at the end I was left satisfied. So give this one a shot, despite how you may think the movie will end up  leaving you. Take a chance on it, and you won't regret it.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Margin Call Quotes

Will Emerson:
I'm all out of nicorettes, which means in about ten minutes I'm going to kill somebody.
– Submitted by Adam D (23 months ago)
Seth Bregman:
This could be huge. The losses would be greater than the current value of the company.
– Submitted by Adam D (23 months ago)
Eric Dale:
I was working on something but they didn't let me finish. Here, take a look at it. Be careful.
– Submitted by Adam D (23 months ago)
John Tuld:
Speak to me as you would a 2 year old or a golden retriever.
– Submitted by Adam D (23 months ago)
Will Emerson:
Some people like taking the long way home.
– Submitted by Adam D (23 months ago)
Sam Rogers:
We dont sell anything to anybody unless they are going to come back for more.
– Submitted by John W (2 years ago)

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