Monday, January 16, 2012

A SArmy's Fan Review - "Margin Call" Arrives in the UK!

After making its rounds in parts of Europe, Canada, the USA, Hong Kong and yes! even Singapore, "Margin Call" finally premiered in the UK last week.

The indie film about Wall Street's money-mongerers which has been making respectable critics and reviewers take notice, opened with a red-carpet event at the Vue Theatre, Leicester Square, London on 9th January 2012.

Lead actors Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany (looking rather hipsterish in blue-tinted geeky glasses and scarf) were present to grace the gala event.

Two of our SArmy members, Kirsty (from ZacharyQuinto UK) and Natalie, were lucky enough to attend the movie's premiere. And here is Natalie's review of the low-budget but beautifully-made movie.


Margin Call – It’s Time To Pay Attention
(by Natalie Wells)

Natalie and Kirsty at the premiere!

On Monday 9th of January, my dear friend Kirsty and I had the good fortune of attending the UK premiere of "Margin Call".

Having closely followed the progress of this film since Before The Door’s initial announcement, we were quite simply desperate to see the finished article and couldn’t wait the extra 4 days for its general release. Big thanks to Alex Rowley of Stealth ("Margin Call"’s UK distributor) for helping us out there!

Although there can be no doubt that this film is phenomenal; the world’s press are falling over themselves to praise it, I had some small personal (by personal, I mean personal to me) concerns. Given the subject matter of "Margin Call", I was a little scared the plot would lose me within the first 10 minutes, leaving me to only appreciate the fine acting and Zachary Quinto’s face.

Here it is; I suck at maths. I have a high IQ and pride myself on my creative abilities but I also have Dyscalculia and subsequently have the mathematical ability of an 8 year old. I know I’m not alone in my fear of numbers. I want to reach out to those of you who also suck at math or who are perhaps a little embarrassed about the fact that you don’t really understand what is going on with the World’s economy right now.

"Margin Call" is NOT scary. Like a sympathetic, understanding teacher, this film will take you by the hand and show you exactly why those people outside Wall Street are so pissed off but it will also remind you that we are all human; just trying to get through life and make the decisions that we feel are right.

The numbers that are thrown around are more comical than confusing. It is the sheer gargantuan size of these figures, plus the fact that the higher up the banking chain of command one is, these numbers became lesser understood or appreciated. When amounts of money that unimaginably huge are being gambled with like marbles, all you can do is laugh. Suddenly it all becomes very clear to the layman.

Jeremy Irons as head honcho banker, John Tuld

"Margin Call" is marketing itself as a thriller and that is exactly what it is. We all know how this story ends; we are all living through it now. It takes a very smart, well put together film that can take a real and recent subject matter and still manage to keep the audience on the edges of their seats. This is a one-off glimpse into a world that most of us never get to see; a world in which people earning $2,500,000 a year can barely keep themselves out of debt.

It might seem difficult to have sympathy for such people and yet, through a fantastic script and first class acting from all involved, you will. Perhaps it is just my tendency to lean towards power and evil, but by the end I even felt a certain amount of sympathy and respect towards Jeremy Irons’ character, such is the calibre of talent involved with this movie.

None of these characters are one-dimensional. It would have been so easy to do that; to give the public a group of horrific bankers to blame everything on, but that wouldn’t have achieved a thing. If you want to feel angry at one-dimensional representations, go and read the Daily Mail.

Instead we have been given the opportunity to see these people as they really are; scared, tormented, wracked with guilt, desperate to do the right thing but willing to do whatever they can to save their own skin. In short, we see they are human, like us.

"Margin Call" is a low budget short story, as such there are few locations and the cast is small. I doubt this film would have worked as well if this were not the case. The audience is pulled into a very claustrophobic world of halogen lights and air conditioning at 3am. You’re sitting there with the cast in the boardroom, feeling like you need to come up with some brilliant plan to Save The Economy, Save The World! Of course, you can’t and you are left frustrated as you watch incredibly powerful people make incredibly bad decisions. If this were real life though, would you be so different if it meant saving your job?

I would also like to add, from a technical point of view, that this is a beautifully shot film. Vivid, crisp and cool colours, lots of shallow depth of field and some stunning close-ups and cityscapes; I found it is aesthetically pleasing on many levels. It is worth remembering that this is director J.C. Chandor’s movie debut, the mind boggles at what he could be creating in a few years time.

At the Q&A Session

At its UK premiere, "Margin Call" was very well received and the end was met with a fantastic round of applause. I’m not au fait with the world of soaps and reality TV, but the usual dregs that seem to show up at premieres were refreshingly absent. The entire event was considerably more low-key and classy than the usual Leicester Square fare.

The audience seemed to mostly comprise of movie and banking industry types and the occasional blagger (yep, blagger not blogger), such as myself and Kirsty. For this reason I think the reaction to "Margin Call" was possibly a lot more telling and genuine. After the film finished we were treated to a Q&A session with Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany, it was wonderful to hear just how much the actors all believed in the project and wanted to be involved.

The film has so much passion and I think this is one of the reasons why. The actors truly cared about the story they were telling and the people they were playing, above all else, they wanted to show both sides of this story fairly. Caring this much clearly makes a huge difference to a movie.

I will freely admit that if it wasn’t for the fact that Zachary Quinto and the Before The Door guys were involved, "Margin Call" would have been passed me by completely and that would have been a tragic shame. I feel this film manages to answer so many questions that ‘Question Time’ or ‘Newsnight’ couldn’t. Best of all it is done with skill, style, humour, passion, sensitivity and eye candy.

You need to see "Margin Call" and you need to tell your friends; this could be one of the most important movies you ever see.


Calling UK folks who watched "Margin Call"... I'm curious to know what you thought of the movie!

Feel free to post your comments below!


Also, follow "Margin Call" on Facebook and Twitter!


  1. I saw it - and saw it again! .... and you're right - if not for @beforethedoor and @ZacharyQuinto I would have missed it ... EXCELLENT movie!

  2. I saw it in a small indie theater, well worth the money, and the time (and the trip). Beautifully acted, with especially good turns by Stan Tucci and Kevin Spacey (Zach Quinto's acting chops go without saying as well.)