Be first. Be smarter. Or cheat.
Margin Call (2011) is a drama movie with a plot describing the precarious situation faced by a large investment bank and its employees during the early stages of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
Synopsis: Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) has been working in the risk management department of a large investment bank for 19 years when he's let go during financial crisis while his employees - senior trader Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) and entry-level analysts Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) and Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) stay.
Before Dale leaves, he passes his project findings to Sullivan who later discovers that the company will soon owe more money than its worth. Finally the entire top management team is notified - head of sales Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), head of securities Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), head of risk Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), and CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons).
After much internal analysis and struggle, Tuld gives the ultimatum to sell everything in a day before the word is out to the public that it's worthless. The company is left with no other choice despite knowing this decision will end all future business transactions and cause the market to crash, resulting in economic crisis.
I find myself at loss with all those corporate jargon in the financial realm. However, this is indeed a relevant and intelligent situational and character-driven movie with an exceptional list of A-listers - Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Zachary Quinto (Spock in Star Trek - 2011), Paul Bettany (Priest), Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker - they play various top management level roles who are forced to make tough decisions that will test their loyalty to the firm despite going against morals and business ethics.
Check out some of Tuld's "motivational speeches":
- There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat. Well, I don't cheat.
- So you think we might have put a few people out of business today. That it's all for naught. You've been doing that everyday for almost forty years Sam. And if this is all for naught then so is everything out there. It's just money; it's made up. Pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don't have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It's not wrong. And it's certainly no different today than its ever been. 1637, 1797, 1819, -37, -57, -84, 1901, -07, -29, 1937, 1974, 1987. Jesus, didn't that f*** up me up good, -92, -97, 2000, and whatever we want to call this. It's all just the same thing over and over; we can't help ourselves. And you and I can't control it, or stop it, or even slow it. Or even ever-so-slightly alter it. We just react. And we make a lot money if we get it right. And we get left by the side of the side of the road if we get it wrong. And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers. Happy foxes and sad sacks. Fat cats and starving dogs in this world. Yeah, there may be more of us today than there's ever been. But the percentages-they stay exactly the same.
Okay, this is not exactly an appropriate movie to watch when the current global economy situation is obviously not very promising. However, this movie does provide an eye-opening and educational experience because not many of us will ever have the chance to go through difficult life-changing situations related to the finance industry. It's a good idea to watch this movie.