|Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi. Photograph by Loris Zampelli©Loris Zampelli|
(Il capitale umano)
2014, 109 minutes
Review by Joshua Handler
Paolo Virzì's Human Capital is a layered, smartly-structured film that begins with a cyclist being hit off the road by a car on Christmas Eve. This incident brings together many people all of whom propel this story of corruption and greed. The film is an adaptation of Stephen Amidon's novel of the same name.
Like Rashomon, Human Capital tells the same story three times, from three different points of view, with each person's story revealing more about the circumstances behind the cyclist's death. Unlike Rashomon, though, the characters don't narrate their own stories, which doesn't allow us to question their motives and their reliability. This approach makes Human Capital much more satisfying than if it was ambiguous.
The screenplay by Virzì, Francesco Bruni, and Francesco Piccolo is well-thought-out, dark, and features three-dimensional characters. While the finale of the film doesn't have the bite that it should and the film itself becomes too convoluted for its own good, it is still extremely entertaining and has potential to become a sleeper hit in the U.S. when Film Movement releases in early 2015.
The performances from all are strong. For her role as a rich housewife whose ambitions are crushed by her powerful husband, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi deservingly won the Tribeca Film Festival's Best Actress Award. Fabrizio Bentivoglio also gives a stand-out performance as a man who makes insane investments with a corrupt businessman in the hopes of becoming rich.
Overall, Human Capital is an interesting critique of Italy's upper class (while this sounds like a repeat of The Great Beauty, Human Capital is nothing like Beauty), a well-acted drama, and a solid piece of entertainment. Again, with the right release, this could connect quite well with American audiences.