Judge Daryl Loomis was hoping for a spirited discussion of the relative merits of theoretical socialism.
Money is the master.
Money is potentially the one thing that's on all our minds much of the time. In many ways, money is essential to our survival, but like anything else, it is something that gets easily abused. Those abusers, hording cash and screwing anyone to get it, ruin it for everyone and make lives harder for those who don't abuse it. In recent years, because of the global financial problems, this has become an even more prominent subject, and we've seen plenty of movies arrive that scold or glorify the idea of making money. David Fincher's The Social Network and Martin Scorcese's The Wolf of Wall Street are two of the more visible ones, and director Costa-Gavras (Hannah K.) has chimed in himself with the satirical Capital, an interesting if unremarkable take on the subject.
Facts of the Case
After the old boss collapses on the golf course, Marc Tourneuil (Gad Elmaleh, Priceless) gets named interim CEO of Phenix Bank, a rising financial conglomerate looking to expand out of France and into the global market. His heart is in the right place and his loving wife, Diane (Natacha Regnier, Criminal Lovers), is proud of him. Soon, though, the pressures of the job and the power he feels starts to get to him and, once he gets in bed with American hedge fund manager Dittmar Rigule (Gabriel Byrne, Miller's Crossing), whose company owns stake in Phenix, he starts to become the exact thing that he always hated.
The only real problem with Capital is that it doesn't really say anything new. It comes from a French perspective, I suppose, but that doesn't ring as true as it might once have when the world wasn't so globalized and everything didn't run the same way. Otherwise, it's a perfectly decent drama with bits of comedy and hints of a thriller, though that end doesn't really go very far.
Costa-Gravas has made plenty of movies in which an individual gets wrapped up in a corrupt system, but this one's a little different in that, in most of those earlier movies, the person getting corrupted started out with good intentions. In Capital, though Tourneuil starts out making motions toward being a good person, he readily accepts and embraces the corruption almost immediately. His wife, an old money veteran who wants nothing to do with the life anymore, sees it coming a mile away, but can do nothing to watch it. She's the only reputable character in a movie full of sleazebags.
That's what Capital gets the most right: the fact that this is an industry filled with nothing but slime. The suits and the boats and the planes all look shiny and fun, but they're stuffed with filth. Nobody represents this here better than Gabriel Byrne's Rigule, who is the epitome of the multi-national scam artist.
Byrne's a hoot in the role and, overall, Capital is a very well-acted piece of entertainment. Byrne is great, sure, but the star here is Elmaleh. A comedian by trade, he does a really good job of portraying the feigned virtue of Tourneuil and is totally convincing as he finally just accepts who he is and runs with it. As the one reputable character in the movie, Regnier does a great job lending a little bit of humanity to the movie. Her character doesn't have the largest amount of screen time, but she makes the most of her scenes.
This isn't the best or most stylish Costa-Gravas has made in his career, but it looks pretty good. There's a certain coldness to it, representing the business well, but it's also an international production, going from Paris to London to Tokyo to Miami. Each location has a different feel and makes the movie seem bigger than it really is. Costa-Gravas gets his point across and the movie looks good while he's doing it, but it really doesn't say anything new about the subject, making it an ultimately fairly forgettable experience.
Capital comes to Blu-ray courtesy of E1 and the Cohen Media Group. The 2.35:1/1080p looks quite good, nice and bright with strong color. The international locations are all given a bit of a different look and it performs well in each. Contrast is strong and fine detail is apparent throughout, while black levels are as deep as I want to see.
The Master Audio surround sound performs nicely, as well. It's dialog-heavy, so the surround channels don't get the kind of workout that many films might give them, but it opens up well when it needs to, such as the music in club scenes and the ambient sounds of the ocean. It's nothing special, but it's a strong representation of the audio.
Extras are limited, but quality. A fifteen minute interview with Costa-Gravas is in English and deals with the director's career at large, as well as his ideas and intentions behind Capital in particular. A ten minute talk with Gabriel Byrne, in which we find the actor discussing what drew him to this role and reminiscing about his history with the director. Finally, a twenty minute featurette shows us Elmaleh in various vignettes clowning around; fun, but insubstantial. A disappointing slate of supplements, maybe, but an overall good disc.
Even if Capital isn't the best representation of the problems with modern global capitalism, it's still a brisk fun little drama with a bit of satirical humor and a few thrills along the way. Mostly, it's a strong performance piece that, while maybe not the best film Costa-Gravas ever made, is still pretty fun to watch.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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