HUMAN CAPITAL continues the reign of Paolo Virzi as one of, if not the Italian master at capturing his country's life in all its complexities, humor and sadness. This multi award-winning filmmaker has here co-adapted the screenplay (based on the novel by Stephen Amidon) and directed this sleek and highly entertaining tale of Italy's very rich and those who aspire to that class. In the process Virzi looks at the wealthy, the bourgeoisie, and the underclass and the ways in which they connect and bounce off each other -- sometimes comically, at other times violently, and always somehow thoughtlessly, as each strives to "succeed."
My Name Is Tanino and Caterina in the Big City to The First Beautiful Thing and Every Blessed Day, have given me immense pleasure over the past decade or so -- comes through again with another good one. If I call Human Capital a melodrama, I mean no disrespect, for a very good melodrama is a rare thing these days, and this proves a fine and comic one, as it dissects class and wealth, attitudes and actions that lead to (and from) the hit-and-run accident that begins this stylish and engaging film. Once we see that initial accident, Virzi circles back to show us -- from several viewpoints -- what has happened and why. Each perspective from which we view things gives us greater scope and understanding, until all the pieces of the mystery at last connect.
Fabrizio Gifuni, above, right), wife (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, above, left) and spoiled son -- and the very middle-class family, the daughter of which happens to be the girlfriend of the rich son.
Fabrizio Bentivoglio (above, left) -- his wife (Valeria Golino, above, right) proves much more stable and intelligent -- pushes himself into being allowed to invest in one of the wealthy husband's latest schemes (a talent for tennis provides his entryway), and we're off to the races.
Luigi Lo Cascio, below, right).
Matilde Gioli, below, right, with Giovanni Anzaldo, who, along with that hit-and-run waiter, represents the lower classes) becomes more central. I do wish the filmmaker had not resorted to the by-now old-hat routine of someone reading someone else's email (this is the modern version of Downton Abbey's surreptitiously overheard conversations). But then, that's one of the things that separates drama from melodrama.
Film Movement, in Italian with English subtitles, and running 110 minutes, the movie opens this coming Wednesday, January 14, in New York City at Film Forum and in Los Angeles on Friday, January 16, at the Sundance Sunset Cinema. You can view all currently playdates, with cities and theaters listed, by clicking here and scrolling down.