Little Feels Fresh or Believable in Corporate Noir Capital

Little Feels Fresh or Believable in Corporate Noir Capital

Greek-born French filmmaker Costa-Gavras has gone after "isms"—fascism, Nazism, imperialism—in vivid political melodramas like Z and Missing, as well as less accomplished, though watchable, movies like Music Box and Amen.

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The director's latest tackles capitalism, and the title, Capital, is essentially the only apt thing about it. A tacky corporate noir that makes you long for the leanness of Margin Call, or even the clumsy theatrics of Arbitrage, the film revolves around Marc, a Parisian executive (French-Moroccan comic Gad Elmaleh) unexpectedly named CEO of a bank.

Much to the irritation of the board of directors, Marc proves to be an uncontrollable S.O.B., all too willing to follow the lead of the story's real villains: American shareholders who pressure him into laying off dozens of employees—a no-no in the land of strict worker protections—and making reckless investments.

Capital is a parable about France selling out to keep up with America's "cowboy capitalism," but the film's portrayal of soulless suits is so obvious and silly—typical dialogue: "CEOs write checks, fire people, and eat well; watch your waistline"—that it's hard to muster more than a yawn and a giggle (the latter when a malevolent femme fatale licks globs of caviar from her knee). Little feels fresh, from the generically pulsing score to the chilly grays of Eric Gautier's cinematography to the long-suffering wife character.

Most fatally, sweet-looking Elmaleh fails to convince as a shark. He's more persuasive flinching at a family dinner while his socialist uncle scolds him for firing people. Marc may be a bastard, but he's a French bastard, through and through.



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