Netflix UK film review: Human Capital
James R | On 27, Sep 2014
Director: Paolo Virzì
Cast: Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Matilde Gioli
Watch Human Capital online in the UK: Netflix UK / Curzon Home Cinema / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Rich people, eh? They’re not very nice. Everyone knows that. So a film about a guy getting involved with Italy’s upper class might not sound like a must-see, but Human Capital is bitingly good stuff.
Paolo Virzì’s film follows Dino Ossola, an estate agent eager to sit at the big table with the wealthy sharks – literally, in the case of a charity gala at his daughter’s school. And so, after dropping Serena at her boyfriend’s mansion, Dino does his best to rub shoulders with everyone he can find. In no time at all, he’s tennis partners with the top man himself, Giovanni Bernaschi.
Fabrizio Bentivoglio is fantastic as the hapless idiot, happy to take out a loan and lie his way into their famously lucrative hedge fund – despite their warnings that only those who can afford it should join. And the fact that the film is titled “human capital”.
But while Dino’s disastrous financial management could eventually tire over two hours, Virzi’s smart script – based on a novel by Stephen Amildon and co-written with Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo – switches perspective to follow events again from the perspective of Giovanni’s wife, Carla.
That Rashomon-like chapter structure repeats again with Serena, a progression that moves from the stately opulence of the Bernaschi family to increasingly haphazard strands of the plot. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s nervous, unhappy wife is fraying horribly at the edges, convincing her hubby to buy an old theatre, while Serena flits between her boyfriend, Massimiliano, and new fling Luca.
Throughout the tapestry is woven one key question: what does this have to do with a cyclist we see knocked off the road at the start? And who is responsible for the hit and run?
The cast are all excellent, especially Fabrizio Gifuni’s wonderfully slippery Giovanni, but Matilde Gioli steals the show as the stunning, insecure Serena, who soon witnesses the repercussions that her dad’s desperate grabbing up the social ladder has for those on the rungs beneath; a journey that moves between indifferent grace and shabby disarray. From the smooth opening of a garage door on a fancy, sunlit driveway to the panicked face of a guy out of his depth, Human Capital offers a gripping contrast between the haves and the have-nots of modern society. The film has been selected by Italy for the foreign-language Oscar race. After seeing the fallout from Italy’s top hedge fund, it certainly seems like a safe bet.
Human Capital is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I buy or rent Human Capital online in the UK?
Human Capital premiered in the UK at the Raindance Film Festival before hitting VOD two days later. For other indie films from Raindance available online, head this way.