The most important thing about Margin Call is that this is not a film about the Fall of Modern Finance. It’s not even about finance. Or Wall Street. As all great films, Margin Call is about the human condition. It’s about intimacy and alienation, survival and suicide. It’s a film about the dimming embers of the human spirit gasping for oxygen and staying alive.
This story explains why the world feels so different to us since the fall of Lehman Brothers — since the collapse of trust in 2008. Without preaching, the film urges us to understand that the Great Recession marks a watershed event in human history, an event whose full significance we have not yet grasped. Margin Call doesn’t just help us understand what the head of Lehman Brothers felt on September 15, 2008. It makes us wonder if we should still be looking at the world the same way today, as a series of bubbles within bubbles…an opportunity for a fire-sale. Indeed, the film inspires some dark thoughts.
The film is packed with thought-provoking moments that touch on the complexity of confronting an adversary in cold blood, while acknowledging his or her humanity. Margin Call shows strong characters trying to stay clean while rolling in dirt with the pigs. The film shows why it’s so logical to stay calm under uncommon pressure, to stay above the mundane details, even the details of the pain we suffer day-to-day.
This is a brilliant film.