movie review - Capital
Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog
Wild At Heart
"Capital" (i.e. - Le Capital) is the latest French film by director Costa-Gavras. While not overly prolific (19 films since 1965 including the Academy Award winning "Z"), he is known for his political themes running through his movies. This one takes a stab at looking at the world of finance and starts with the CEO of France's Phenix Bank collapsing on a golf course. This leads to our narrator, a young executive Marc Tourneuil (Gad El Maleh), to be crowned as his replacement.
The idea is that he will be a lame duck CEO who will let the senior execs run the company until the regular CEO heals. However, Mr Tourneuil has ideas of his own on the directions the company should move in. He starts with some nice ideas like unloading toxic stocks and becoming more green but stockholder realities take over as seemingly ruthless firings and shoring up the business. Things are compounded as he also has to fight off a hostile takeover from a large American hedge fund. he takes his company to the brink in hopes of working a complex scheme to retain power at all costs while taking his enemies down a peg or two.
We have seen numerous movies of this type over the years and while not really adding anything new, the film is interesting enough to check out. Your enjoyment of the film will rely on how much you like Gad as our protagonist Marc Tourneuil. While generally good of heart, he has embraced the culture of cynicism of the financial world so as soon as things start spiraling, he is comfortable enough and smart enough to start figuring out the best way to survive his detractors, work with minimal government interference and to make his money. The only two things that felt somewhat hollow in his performance to me was putting money above his wife (who was vastly underused) in the way he did and his infatuation with an international model (played by Liya Kebede) which scenes seemed out of place with watching the way he manipulated the game.
I enjoyed the way the story fell into place otherwise with this complex chess game between all parties trying to gain power but wished more of his family life was integrated into the story. That could have provided a good counterpoint to the venom of the corporate world and allowed more contrast to see a guy behind the boardroom in more detail. Too many of these financial films focus on the lone warrior and don't show the main characters family life and while we saw touches, I wanted to see more of that since they has some nice actors in those parts to work with. So while the film doesn't reach it's full potential, it does have plenty of good moments.
I would highly recommending seeing his 1969 masterpiece "Z" but this is a decent piece of work also and is opening today at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. My grade is a B-.