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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Human Capital" or "Les opportunistes")

 

directed by Paolo Virzý
Italy/France 2013

 

Based on the 2004 novel by Stephen Amidon but transplanted to Italy, HUMAN CAPITAL examines the intertwined lives of two families whose trials amidst the European economic debt crisis of 2010 are compounded by a tragic event. When real estate agent Dino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio, REMEMBER ME, MY LOVE) drops his daughter Serena (Matilde Gioli) off one day at her boyfriend Massimiliano's (Guglielmo Pinelli) home, he makes the acquaintance of the boy's father Giovanni Bernaschi (Fabrizio Gifuni, THE BEST OF YOUTH). Winning him over as a doubles partner and exploiting the friendship between their children, Dino finagles an invitation to invest a minimum share in the Bernaschi hedge fund which promises a forty-to-fifty percent return. Tricking his lawyer friend Giampiero (Gigio Alberti, MY MOTHER'S SMILE) into securing him a 700,000 Euro loan using his house as collateral to expand his business, he instead signs onto the hedge fund and takes a smaller, cheaper office just as his wife Roberta (Valeria Golino, THE GIRL BY THE LAKE) reveals that she is pregnant and it seems as though Serena may need to go to college in New York to keep up with the Bernaschis. Bernaschi's unhappy wife Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, 5X2) is unfulfilled until she discovers that the town's historic theatre is in need of restoration and will otherwise be turned into a shopping mall or apartment building. Appealing to her husband to fund the restoration, Giovanni turns it into a business proposition and Clara becomes overwhelmed as the head a board of directors. She begins an affair with a drama teacher (Luigi Lo Cascio, GOOD MORNING, NIGHT) and plans to make him the theatre's artistic director when Giovanni reveals that they will have to sell the theatre just to keep afloat when his bet on the economic downfall of the country is slow in coming to fruition. When a hit-and-run incident along a country road shines the spotlight on Massimiliano and Serena, the dysfunctions in both families and the tenuousness of friendships are brought to the fore.

Told in three chapters from the perspectives of three characters which successively shed more light on the central mystery of who was driving Massimiliano's ostentatious "typical asshole car" while also revealing different sides of the other characters (Dino in his chapter seduced by wealth, an oblivious grotesque from Clara's point-of-view, and ruthlessly ambitious in the eyes of his daughter). Events that overlap in Clara's story with that of Dino's are elided by fades; that this technique is largely unnecessary in Serena's chapter is indicative of her estrangement from her father and her avoidance of Clara as the latter is just coming to realize the depth of her son's problems. Given short shrift out of narrative necessity is Golino's Roberta who is the only sensible character, taken for granted by Dino, too outspoken compared to Clara's fair weather friends, and insecure about her relationship with stepdaughter Serena until she really needs a mother. The young characters are well-etched with even the spoiled Massimiliano given depth and context (though not necessarily justification) for his behavior. If the story lets its characters off a little too easily at the end, the cynicism is not so much fashionable as more credible to the audience these days given real life equivalents. Ultimately, the definition of the term "human capital" - the intangible assets of a person that can be used to create an economic value for that individual - can be applied to more than just the hit-and-run victim in the film as certain characters (consciously or not) measure themselves and others in terms of such value. What is cynical is the likeliness that Hollywood may now show interest in Amidon's American source novel after this film's submission as a Best Foreign Film entry for the Academy Awards.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 9 January 2014 (Italy)

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DVD Review: Film Movement - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Film Movement

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:50:28
Video

2.40:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Italian Dolby Digital 5.1; Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Film Movement

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.40:1

Edition Details:
� Making-of featurette (16:9; 22:20)
� Deleted Scene (16:9; 3:17)
� Music Video 'I'm Sorry' by Jack O's Farm (16:9; 4:33)
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:02)
� Bonus Short Film 'Job Interview' by Julia Walter (16:9; 9:23)
� Film Movement Previews
� About Film Movement

DVD Release Date: 7 July 7th, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments

Film Movement's dual-layer, progressive, anamorphic DVD of this Arri Alexa-photographed feature can look a bit flat in the darker scenes, and one would have thought a Best Foreign Film Academy Award submission would have warranted a Blu-ray release. The Italian 5.1 track generally favors the front channels since it is a talky film, but atmospheric effects and the score have a depth not so evident in the 2.0 downmix. The film can be viewed with either optional English subtitles or English closed-captioning.

The main extra is a behind the scenes featurette which includes comments from director Virzi, composer Carlo Virzi, source novel author Stephen Amidon, as well as actors. Virzi explains how he saw in the novel, although set in Connecticut and in 2004, had commonalities with provincial Italy during the 2010 economic crisis. His composer brother discusses the use of ethnic instruments while the location manager discusses the found villa location. The actors refreshingly do not oversell the psychology of their characters, describing them as they come across in the film without obscure backstory and motivations. A deleted scene was wisely left out of the finished feature since it establishes too early on Dino's insensitivity and social climbing ambitions as well as Serena's resentment of him. The film's theatrical trailer is also included, as well as filmographies, trailers for other Film Movement titles, a bonus short film, and a music video for a song used prominently on the soundtrack.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Film Movement

Region 1 - NTSC

 



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