DIRECTOR(S): PAOLO VIRZI WRITER(S): FRANCESCO BRUNI, FRANCESCO PICCOLO, PAOLO VIRZI DOP: JÉRÔME ALMÉRAS CAST:FABRIZIO BENTIVOGLIO, VALERIA BRUNI TEDESCHI, VALERIA GOLINO
Human Capital is on its way to the Oscars as was announced by the film’s director, Paolo Virzi, moments before the screening on the second public day of Raindance and it’s already won a series of awards up until this point. Adapted from the 2004 American novel of the same name, written by Stephen Amidon, the central themes of greed, lust, secrets and lies is bleakly familiar and instantly transferable. Instead of the books original Connecticut setting, Virzi has inserted the story in the capitalist surroundings of Milan before and during a global financial crisis. Told in three chapters from the perspective of three main characters before, during and after the occurrence of a fatal accident and starring two of Italy’s biggest actresses (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Valeria Golino) Human Capital is an essential look at the value of human life between two financially different families.
Dino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) is a small time estate agent, with his eyes on the high-life after he experiences a fleeting moment in home of his daughters rich boyfriends wealthy family; he unabashedly makes a nuisance of himself, convincing the hedge-fund manager to allow Dino to invest in one of his tenuous schemes.
Beautiful Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) is a one time actress who had the potential to go far, but the promise of money and material things was too tempting. Now the wife of head-fund manager and submissive arrogant type Giovanni (Fabrizio Gifuni), she wastes the day away shopping frivolously, but one big expense has the potential to give her life purpose.
Serena, Dino’s enviably free-spirited teenage daughter, is dating Giovanni and Carla’s spoilt son Massi – but as these things go, someone else catches her eye. Soon she’s falling for the wayward outsider, but her connections to Massi’s world brings with it unforseen problems, resulting in a chain of lies and deceit all in the name of love.
Inevitably things turn sour when global economic issues and a fatal hit and run accident threatens to tear both families apart for good. The themes of greed, power and emotional bonds in Human Capital, a grim but very real concept – used by insurers to assess the monetary worth of a life cut short, based upon a person’s life expectancy, earning capacity, and the quantity and quality of their emotional bonds (raindance.org) – draws up some interesting observations on moral and emotional attitudes to money and an unbalanced economic system that sees the rich stay rich by gambling on the plight of others . Telling the story from three perspectives allows us to delve deeper and gain clarity as each characters chapter reveals and ties up loose ends during the course of the film and leading up to the fateful accident. It’s like a ‘whodunnit’ without the pawn of a law-enforcement narrative. And it’s executed brilliantly.
DIRECTOR(S):MATTHEW HAMMETT KNOTT WRITER(S): MATTHEW HAMMETT KNOTT, JOANNA BENECKE DOP: JAMES ASPINALL CAST: JAMES NORTON, TESSA PEAKE-JONES, JOSIE LAWRENCE.
A straight-laced middle-aged widow attempts to remove her daughter from a hippy sex commune. – Raindance.org
A middle-aged, white middle-class widowed woman and a daughter who’s left the nest (and a law degree) to join a sex commune. Life couldn’t be less mundane for the mundane Judith if she tried. High-blood pressure raising dreams and few attention grabbing red-top headlines later and she’s off to bring her daughter back from the cultish gathering once and for all. Only things don’t go to plan, when she meets the hippy dippy commune leader Anita and her merry clan. For the most part they’re just a bunch of fun-young loving nice people who enjoy sleeping with each other. Everyone’s happy. Except that’s not the case, and Judith’s arrival causes some shift in the harmonious group.
It’s a satire that falls in line with classic British sex comedies such as the Robert Askwith Confessions series, only slightly bawdier than the Carry-On films but similarly harmless look at the waning unspoken rule Brits have towards sex versus the frank modern reality that sex is what most of us want and we’re happy to indulge in it without guilt. It’s rarely erotic though, focus is centered on the temperamental relationship between a mother and daughter and Judith expanding her experiences away from the limitations of her own life back in suburbia. It’s charming and very British in some places, self-gratifying and boring in others. The real draw here is seeing Tessa Peake-Jones on-screen, flagged by Josie Lawrence – two of Britain’s best actresses, perhaps slightly forgotten by and large because of an industry that equates women over 40, not as leads, but as tertiary characters with clichéd ideals or new-age ones… okay that’s exactly what these two embody, but Bonobo aims to delve a little deeper. Judith is a layered character, she has stories of her own to tell and she’s still figuring out life in her 50s.
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