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Margin Call. Dir. J. C. Chandor. Perf. Kevin Spacey. Roadside Attractions, 2011. DVD.

Selected Reviews

“…relentless in its honesty and shrewd in its insights and techniques… an extraordinary feat of filmmaking” -A. O. Scott, New York Times

“Margin Call is one of the strongest American films of the year and easily the best Wall Street movie ever made.” -David Denby, New Yorker

“… this confident, crisply made piece of work does an expert job of bringing us inside the inner sanctum of a top Wall Street investment bank…” -Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times 


Your assignment is to write a paper on Margin Call.

Margin Call

“takes place over a 36-hour period at a large Wall Street investment bank and highlights the initial stages of the financial crisis of 2007–2008… Although the film does not depict any real Wall Street firm, or similar corporate action during the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs similarly moved early to hedge and reduce its position in mortgage-backed securities, at the urging of two employees. Other firms like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns found themselves similarly and catastrophically over-leveraged in mortgage-backed securities. They scrambled, ultimately unsuccessfully, to manage the financial and public panic that ensued when their problems became apparent and the global financial markets plunged as a result.” (Margin Call (film))

After Peter Sullivan informs Will Emerson and Sam Rogers about the potentially catastrophic risks posed by the firm’s current holdings in mortgage-backed securities, they meet with Jared Cohen, Sarah Robertson, and Ramesh Shah. 

Paper 1

For the paper, discuss the actions of the main characters in the film. What were their motivations? Their options? How did their “world view” influence their decision-making? Do you agree with their choices or not, and why? Analyze their predicament and discuss the merits of their actions. 

Paper 2

For this paper, discuss how the decisions made by the main characters influence the “real world.” What did their actions do to the other Wall Street firms? How did they influence domestic and global financial markets? What effect did they have on the valuations of other securities? How did they influence lending, mortgages, and retirement accounts? And finally, what effect did they have on capital allocation and formation?

Works Cited

“Margin Call (film).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. . 


 Kevin Spacey as Sam Rogers, Investment Floor Head

 Paul Bettany as Will Emerson, Head of Trading

 Jeremy Irons as John Tuld, CEO and Chairman of the Board

 Zachary Quinto as Peter Sullivan, Senior Risk Analyst

 Penn Badgley as Seth Bregman, Junior Risk Analyst

 Simon Baker as Jared Cohen, Investment Division Head

 Stanley Tucci as Eric Dale, Former Head of Risk Management

 Demi Moore as Sarah Robertson, Chief Risk Management Officer

 Aasif Mandvi as Ramesh Shah, Legal Counsel


If you include any outside material, you must include proper in-text citations and a properly formatted Works Cited section.

MLA Formatting

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