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Human Capital

by Mark Burger

Director Paolo Virzi’s adaptation of (Il Capitale Umano) is based on Stephen Amindon’s novel and, like a book, is divided into “” each one focusing on a different character within the same narrative orbit.

With each character and chapter, the overall pictures comes into clearer focus, in a methodical, sometimes stylish, fashion that also explores the class structure of contemporary Italy “” which is scarcely different from the class structure throughout much of the world.

Dino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) is a reasonably successful real-estate agent eager to improve his financial status and social standing, so he invests in a hedge-fund cooked up by wealthy broker Giovanni (Fabrizio Gifuni) “” and tries to maintain an upbeat facade when it becomes clear that his investment was not a wise one.

Giovanni’s wife Carla (Valeria Bruno Tedeschi) is pampered but perennially bored and depressed, despite the lavish lifestyle he’s afforded her. Dino’s daughter Serena (Matilde Gioli) had been dating Giovanni and Carla’s hard-partying son (Guglielmo Pinelli) but then became involved with Luca (Giovanni Anzaldo), a seeming “bad boy” who is being counseled by Dino’s girlfriend (Valeria Golino), who is also expecting twins – unexpectedly.

Virzi is able to keep track of each character, thereby keeping the story from becoming too convoluted and also bringing it circle – back to the hit-and-run accident that opened the film, and which proves the dramatic key to its solution. Yet as effective as Virzi is at conveying the story on its various levels, the characters themselves become figures in a landscape. It’s not that the performances are lacking, but it’s the story as a whole that takes precedence. Human Capital is quite watchable and sometimes impressive, yet it’s also chilly and dispassionate, a difficult film to really warm up to. In many ways, its characters get just what they deserve. (In Italian with English subtitles) !

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