Movie Review: Margin Call

Margin Call Synopsis

Margin call is a drama thriller movie directed by J.C. Chandor (produced Before the Door Pictures in 2011). It is a film about a financial crisis in a company. All the events in the movie happened within 24 hours.

The movie started with a mass layoff. Young and old employees are asked to clear their desk. People did not have a chance to say good bye to their colleagues. The layoff is really sudden. They just have to leave the building after signing the papers.

Before leaving, one of the terminated employees, Eric Dale (head of risk management), left a flash drive to Peter Sullivan (risk analyst). To Sullivan’s surprise it contains information about the portfolio of the company. It shows that there will be a great loss that has a greater value than the firm itself. This lead to an emergency meeting among the firm managers.

There were series of debates on how to solve the problem. The CEO of the firm gave crazy ideas. The next morning, Dale is finally found at his home. He got an offer to go back to the company. The company threatens him that he will not pay him his severance and benefits unless he agrees to help them.

Margin Call

Margin Call Review/ Case Analysis

This is not my kind of movie. I watch movies to be entertained but this one got me stressed. It took me weeks before I actually got the drive to make a reaction paper. I’m not proud of it but I hope you can read more about my thoughts on this. As I can see it, there are two main problems in the movie. First, their layoff process is very questionable. Second, there’s moral dilemma on how to survive the crisis in the company .

Margin Call

Layoff Process

The layoff process is very questionable. The company hired a team to fire 80% of their employees. This is unacceptable. They were not given time to prepare. For me, it’s really traumatizing to go to your job and find out that you’re suddenly unemployed. Although, there’s a severance package, it’s still important to protect the interest of the employees too. A person’s loyalty is priceless. It’s sad that they made the people feel that they are very disposable.

Company’s Problem

In addition, according to Sullivan, the firm has a month to layer its MBS products so the assets stay on the company’s books. One of the proposed solutions to the problem is to dump all the toxic assets of the company. This became a test of character to all the characters in the movie.

First, instead of partying, Peter Sullivan stayed in the office and reported all his findings to his supervisors. It shows how he genuinely cares for the company and the employees. Second, Jared Cohen, the chief risk management officer, came up with the idea to sell off the company’s volatile assets. It shows that he only thinks of saving the company. He doesn’t care if people will buy assets without a value. Third, Sam Rogers, the head of trading floor, promised bonuses for people who can sell the most assets. The bad thing is that, he did not inform the people that what they are selling is valueless. Lastly, the CEO John Tuld does not feel any guilt at all. It shows that there are managers who only thinks about the company and not the clients nor the employees.

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Final Thoughts

It’s actually a good movie if you want to analyze the different types of managers. There are people who think about what’s good for the employees, but there are also selfish individuals who only thinks about what’s best for their company. Some managers also think only about themselves. It is indeed true that people show their true colors when they are facing problems.

Thanks for reading! This is actually one of the requirements in my course. I’m currently taking up MA Education Management in Philippine Christian University. It’s the reason why I’m not travelling these days.

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  1. Reading this, mas na hook ako dun sa final thoughts mo which is very true. Those two types of person existed. Lucky ka if employer mo is yung vina value yung mga employees nila, if not, your loyalty is “disposable”. Btw, goodluck to your MA ?

  2. My friend suggested me this movie few days ago. Good thing, I came across your blog, nahikayat ako lalo panoorin sa Netflix. Hehe

  3. Thankyou Ms. Karla for this movie review. Actually after reading this gusto ko siyang panoodin, ang interesting ng dating ng plot sakin. ? Im not into this kind of movie pero dahil siguro sa academic track ko nakuha niya yung atensyon ko.

  4. Thanks for the movie review Ms Karla, indeed true colors of each person will come out when there is a problem faced. I got interested in this movie since by this time we have a subject called Corporate Social responsibility or CSR. Where in we also get to talk about managers and business and how they should be valuing their business, their employees and their consumers (the society ) business must treasure their employees because its actually a part of the assets of the company and businesses must also ensure that they gave the people the quality product and not just for the sake of profit.

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