Human Capital, film review: Director shows the comic side of the characters’ scheming, and its destructive effect

(15) Dir. Paolo Virsi; Starring: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, 110 mins

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The Independent Online

Virsi’s dark, satirical drama, based on a novel by Stephen Amidon, offers a wryly despairing look at how everyday corruption and class tension have caused Italian society to decay.

The film is set in northern Italy. It opens with a bicyclist being forced off the road by a hit-and-run driver in the dead of night. In flashback, we then see the build-up to the accident from several different perspectives. There is the sleazy, conceited small-time estate agent and one-time tennis ace (an enjoyably comic turn by Fabrizio Bentivoglio), desperate to buy his way into the social elite. There is the wealthy financier (Fabrizio Gifuni) running what seems to be a glorified Ponzi scheme. There are unhappy wives (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and disaffected teenage children. Low-level dishonesty and cheating are all pervasive. Virsi shows the comic side of the characters’ scheming, but also the destructive effect they have on each others’ lives.