Capital (2012) “Le capital”
Cast includes: Gad Elmaleh (Midnight in Paris), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects), Liya Kebede (Desert Flower), Natacha Régnier (Criminal Lovers), Céline Sallette (Rust and Bone)
Director: Costa-Gavras (Z, Missing)
Genre: Drama | Thriller (114 minutes) French with subtitles
Jack’s hid his cancer until that moment on the golf course. Marc looks at us and says, “It’s the day that changed my destiny. After that, I became indispensible.” Before rumors heat up, Phenix Bank needs to needs to name a successor. There are several men who think they’ve put in the time and should be considered for the CEO position, but much to everyone’s surprise, Jack names Marc. “I trust you with the rudder.” The meeting at DeSuza’s is contentious because the board offers Marc a salary of only €1.8 million. “Jack had been getting €2.4,” mark counters. But there’s little sympathy for Marc. Even Diane, Marc’s wife wonders why he isn’t happy about the salary. It’s more than he’s ever made before. “Low pay means low respect,” says Marc.
The former police detective thinks he’s being employed to protect the bank’s art assets, but Marc wants to know what else he’s prepared to do. “Anything, as long as it’s legal.” And if it’s not? “That’ll require an adjustment in the fee.” Marc wants him to “sift through the trash.” He wants to know everything there is to know about his colleagues at Phenix Bank… anything that might be useful in a pinch. In the Meantime, Dittmar, an American hedge fund owner, wants Marc to come to Miami to discuss bank business. “No need to bring your wife.” As Marc boards Dittmar’s yacht, Nassim, the woman in red catches his eye. Of all the playthings Dittmar has made available, she’s the only one Marc’s interested in… but he’s headed back to Paris tonight. Dittmar’s brand of “cowboy capitalism” is definitely not ethical. But the cowboy is a major shareholder, and Marc may have little choice.
“War has been declared. Our independence is at stake.” It’s a financial minefield, and Marc is going to need some fancy footwork to navigate the dangers. In the process, Marc may loose his own ethical grounding. As the story develops, the details of the financial maneuvers fly by at high speed… especially for Americans who are reading subtitles. (I suspect French viewers won’t understand all the details either.) Capital is a stylish film, and Gad Elmaleh, who plays Marc is enjoyable to watch. However, if you’re expecting it to come up to the level of a first-rate American financial thriller, such as Margin Call, it doesn’t. The financial deals were just too complicated. For that matter, the emotional arcs aren’t well developed either. The filmmaker’s distain for this world is about the only thing that’s conveyed with clarity. “Some people believe money is a tool. Money is master.”
1 popped kernels
In the world of global high finance, the ethical lines can get blurred
Distribution: Art house
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Primary Driver: Plot
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment