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|Index||20 reviews in total|
Let's continue to rob the poor and make the rich richer!" this is what about the modern day banking and financing (undre)world, banks are just like Mafia, bankers Mafiosos, banks' CEO in private jet doing country hopping, hiring retired cop to do the dirt-digging and trashcan/dumpster diving jobs, committing some adultery flirting with high priced model- hooker, back-stabbing while self defense, behind the door deals, estranged to parents, wives, kids, fence off hostile takeover, firing the employees as many as possible, no gender and age are safe, laying off more, the stockholders will be happier and the stock will be rocketing. so, indeed "money is not a tool but a master, serving him well and he'll reward you generously". so let's continue to rob the poor blind and serve the rich loyally. what a great movie, very tense and thrilling, great montage, lot of exotic locations in different countries. this is a very nicely done movie, quite worth watching.
If there is one message that the movie is trying to communicate to its
audience it's the above title.
There are of course reviews that point out the alleged likeliness of this film with movies like "Wall Street" usually concluding "that there is nothing new to see". Under closer examination however, any similarities between the two films go only skin-deep and can only be considered superficial. There are fundamental differences between these two movies because they represent two different approaches and evaluations of the same issue and which one hits home is up for you to decide. And thats because "Wall Street" focuses on the seducing power and aloofness of a loan shark that acts as a money fueled lone wolf, as opposed to the naiveness of a young rookie which is slow to disillusion himself about his own actions while he's getting carried away (but eventually comes out on top etc). The caveat of such scenarios is in that they constantly, silently and almost purposefully marginalize the inherent, all consuming, self-perpetuating environment and ill-conceived culture that money in and all by itself creates, even for "the winners of the game".
La Capital on the other hand has none of the above shortcomings when it comes to describing the black hole lurking deep into the very foundations of our culture: Money. It's a film about attitudes and value systems across the board, with a scenario that's free of cliché good-guy-vs-bad-guy dualities and with the courageous nerve to "pull no punches" sparing its viewer from having to suffer another stereotypical "happy ending" made-in-Hollywood (has elements of it but still its not "right into your face").
Finally, I would just like to add that, all in all, Mr Gavras is right in that there will come a time in the not so distant future ... A time in which, among other things, our western culture will look back to the contemporary intellectuals and artists to examine which ones did of their duty in terms of articulating the public opinion, bringing the spotlight on the machinations of the financial system and the corrosive effects that money in and all by itself has both on our societies as a whole, in our own micro-worlds and those of our acquaintances as well as our own fragile, individual psyches. And when this time comes I think that the memory of both Mr Gavras and those that stood by him in this and similar projects will be, if not exalted, then at the very least spared from the outrage of the dystopian poverty-striken masses.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Since four years now and the beginning of the world wide economic
crisis, this kind of films emerges from nearly everywhere. This movies
is not an exception. It describes the ruthless, fierce, cruel and
greedy financial world - I would say underworld. Many people have said
this is too much in caricature, full of clichés. Yes I agree with that,
but it's very realistic. And so cynical too. As I have rarely seen
before. Costa Gavras tries so hard to disgust the audience, make the
viewers puke all over the joint in watching this feature. What is the
most interesting, is that the lead is actually a disgusting hero. I
have never seen a hero described in such a way. Never in a life time
watching films. I Love this. But that doesn't make it a great film.
Only surprising about this detail. That's all.
I prefer it to WALL STREET films. Although it's not better.
Worth the look. No more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gad Elmaleh plays Marc Tourneuil, an employee at a powerful French
bank, the Phénix, who unexpectedly becomes its president when his boss
starts dying from cancer. Handpicked by him because he will be easier
to control, Tourneuil turns the tables around when he starts going
against the board members' wishes. His real challenge, however, comes
when Dittmar Rigule (played by Gabriel Byrne), a financer running a
hedge fund out of Miami, becomes the Phénix's major stockholder and
forces it to adopt American-style wild capitalism. Tourneuil's first
mission is to fire around 10,000 people in order to increase the
stockholders' profits by 20%. That he does with aplomb, even after
organising a world-wide video-conference with every Phénix employee and
director to assure them that there will be no massive downsizing. But
Tourneuil starts sensing a real threat to his survival when Dittmar
insists in him buying a Japanese bank that a report claims to be in
serious financial trouble. Guessing Dittmar's plan to make him look
incompetent while debilitating the Phénix with a ruinous hostile
takeover that will guarantee the Miami hedge fund to gain total control
of it, Tourneuil puts into practice a two-faced scheme not so much to
save his bank but to make sure he comes out of the battle as its de
In our current economic climate, one has to wonder about the wisdom of making the hero an immoral, selfish banker who calls himself a modern Robin Hood, stealing from the poor so the rich may become richer. Tourneuil shows off his affluence without moral pangs for the lives he destroys, and his daily existence is a series of globe-trotting journeys to exotic places like Tokyo and Miami, where he hangs out at luxurious parties with models. He cheats on his wife (Natacha Régnier), rapes a fashion model (Liya Kebede), and belittles the optimism of one of his employees (Céline Sallette) not long after he had made her believe he shared her moral values. Add to Tourneuil's loathsome personality and actions Elmaleh's cold stare and stony facial expressions, and you have a protagonist who is only the hero because the villains, the predatory Miami bankers, are much worse. Elmaleh is so bland one presumes if has to be part of the acting. Perhaps it's Costa-Gavras' intention to totally dehumanize the banking class. Be as it may, Elmaleh comes off as a poor man's Alan Delon, no emotion in his icy blue eyes, but no charisma either.
The vicious, ambiguous Tourneuil is in the vein of Costa-Gavras' previous anti-hero from The Axe. In this movie an upper-middle class executive is fired during his company's downsizing. After two years unemployed, he starts killing his competitors for job vacancies. It's a lovely dark comedy that constantly asks the viewer why he should care about this ruthless bastard getting a job when there are millions of better people with worse lives in the same desperate situation. I think perhaps it's because we don't care about poor people anymore. Decades ago I mean the turbulent and hopeful sixties and seventies people believed in class war, people even had had and though the world could be made a better place. But we live in an age when the media vehemently say class war does not exist, and instead scares us into thinking the world is a cesspit that will remain a cesspit because we're too insignificant to make a difference. And perhaps they're right. So in this atomised environment, the poor are poor because they want to not because of circumstances beyond their power, we are frequently told. And although in the past one could feel sympathy for them, nowadays we feel disgusted by them. We don't like poor people, we don't want to see them, we don't want to think about them. We admire the rich, the famous, the powerful, we want to be them. So instead of wanting to make the viewer feel sad about the wretched, when that shtick doesn't work anymore in our selfish era, Costa-Gavras shows how he thinks the rich think and live, and then asks, "Are these your modern heroes, are these the people you want to be? Are you really capable of rooting for these scumbags?" The message is interesting, but the actual execution lacks merit and sounds too preachy to seduce any viewer who reasonably doesn't like to be lectured without a good dose of entertainment to wash it down. The characters' motivations are frequently sketchy, many characters are one-dimensional, and the dialogue is peppered with too many corny aphorisms that lack the depth the screenwriters mistakenly think they have.
In 1969 Z, a fast-paced thriller about the investigation into the murder of a left-wing Greek candidate, won two Academy awards, was a worldwide success and catapulted the director into stardom. In the seventies, working with screenwriters Jorge Semprún and Franco Solinas, he made several good movies: The Confession, State of Siege, Special Section. Each showcased his knack for exciting montages, clever humour, polemical topics and entertaining story lines, and although they never met with Z's success they were at least every bit as watchable. But starting in the eighties his career started decaying, his movies losing their panache and becoming bland vehicles to vent his moral and social outrage. The fury started compromising the artistry. The world today isn't very different than the world of the young filmmaker who made Z and State of Siege. But I think it's time for a new generation of politically-committed filmmakers to bear the torch, with Costa-Gavras's fierce passion but also the skills he displayed decades ago. Then we can have intelligent and relevant political cinema again. If art has the power to change the world, and I believe it has that power, it must be an art of a greater aesthetic value than Le Capital.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What most people don't get is that the title of this movie is the title of Marx's "Das Kapital". All characters in this movie are allegorical and allude to ideas in Marx's book. Mao Tse Tung, the ironic use of the social revolution to lay off people, the overly caricature relationship with Nassim (as all other relationships) make reference to relationships on an institutional, economical and political level. If you watch it this way (without overdoing it) it will make far more sense than just a simple story. Agreeing with the ideas is a whole different ball game, but the movie is overall deeper than most people seem to acknowledge.
LE CAPITAL is an interesting film to compare with Martin Scorsese's WOLF OF WALL STREET, released a year later. Both contain similar subject-matter (the rapacity of the modern-day banking world) inspired by recent events in major financial centers such as London, Paris and New York. Nonetheless Costa-Gavras' film works much better as an indictment of contemporary greed as compared to Scorsese's. There are several reasons for this: unlike Leonardo DiCaprio in the Scorsese work, Marc Tourneuil (Gad Elmaleh) is a genuinely unsympathetic central character. His expression (in public, at least) seldom changes as he ruthlessly consolidates his position as CEO of Phenix Bank, a Paris-based institution with aspirations to participate on the world stage. Anyone getting in his way is ruthlessly brushed aside; even those who support him in his quest for power are not exempt. His personal life is treated equally ruthlessly - although married to Diane (Natacha Régnier), he shows no scruples in his relentless pursuit of supermodel Nassim (Liya Kebede), even though she strings him along with equal ruthlessness. At the same time Marc is well aware that he is putting on an act; there are several moments where he uses voice-over to communicate his true feelings to the audience, and he sometimes addresses them direct to camera. He is nothing more than a prisoner of ambition; in the dog-eat-dog world of high finance, he has to play the game, however much he dislikes it. Sometimes LE CAPITAL does seem a little over-moralistic in tone - the sequences involving tyro banker Maud Baron (Céline Sallette)(who sacrifices a promising career in Phenix Bank's London office in order to expose the corruption lurking beneath a proposed business deal) tend to be rather static, especially the one taking place next to the Seine, where Maud invites Marc to give up his money-dominated existence and pursue the path of righteousness. On the other hand Costa-Gavras' film makes intelligent use of modern technology: much of the communication, especially between Marc and his US-based patron Dittmar Rigule (Gabriel Byrne) is done via videophone. This strategy indicates how debased the financial world has become; no one favors face-to-face talk anymore, but would rather put a screen in front of them, that can be switched off at will. The narrative of LE CAPITAL unfolds swiftly, making intelligent use of high-tech locations in London, Paris and New York. Its subject might be familiar, but its impact remains powerful.
Very interested 2012 French film by Costa Garvas. Shows how a large French bank operates in the world's financial market and how it integrates into the international banking system. An aging CEO is replaced by a younger executive. He finds himself with a lot of internal and external pressures. Some scenes of it reminds of Wall Street 2. A different approach to the financial market at a fast pace, in some moments too fast to follow and grasp. Also shows the relationships between the different executives and its lower level employees when the new CEO starts laying off people to tune up the finances of the bank with ruthless practices and little concern about employees needs and their respect. Worth while seeing.
Marc Tourneuil (Gad Elmaleh) is an ambitious executive of the French
Phenix Bank. When the CEO becomes incapacitated with cancer, he
handpicks Tourneuil as the replacement CEO. He's surrounded by enemies.
When he starts pushing to be more than a figurehead for the old CEO, he
even loses that support. The only support comes from an American hedge
fund minority shareholder Dittmar Rigule (Gabriel Byrne). The problem
is that his support comes with strings attached. There is also
underwear supermodel Nassim that has caught the eye of the married
This starts off well. I like the corporate intrigue and the paranoid backstabbing. Some of the arguing from the wife and their family does border on naivety. I like the morally dubious protagonist better. However the movie slips as it tries to shoehorn a Hollywood happy ending. It would be better to keep a noir edge to the end. The last half has too many simplistic turns. I would be much happier with a murkier darker progression.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Renowned film director Constantin Costa-Gavras has attempted to make a
film about the cut-throat world of international banking, with Marc
Tourneuil (Gad Elmaleh) as his main anti-hero. Tourneuil is
unexpectedly catapulted into the job of CEO of Phenix Bank after its
previous CEO succumbs to an advanced stage of testicular cancer. After
a few jokes about testicles, Tourneuil must head off political
intrigues in order to stay at the helm of the firm.
A movie like this works when there is lots of sly wit and plot developments to hold our interest and compensate for the absence of sympathetic characters. The problem with "Le Capital" is that it is somewhat deficient in these two areas, though not to the extent that I would not recommend the picture. To begin with, Costa-Gavras clearly wants to show that multinational banking is destructive to the economy and to people's lives, but he does not expand on these themes in any meaningful way. Tourneuil's comment about being ignorant of the financial instruments which Phenix Bank sells remains a loose end. Likewise, Tourneuil's significant remark that bankers are akin to children who play with other people's money until the financial system blows up remains an enigmatic portend. A great film would attempt to explore these themes more fully through the life of Tourneuil. We do not get any insight into the shortcomings of securitized assets, or the pressures that bankers come under to sell these combustible assets to capital markets, or even Phenix Bank's lobbying of governments in order to change the financial regulations in its favour. This film cannot be faulted for not having a message. Constantin Costa-Gavras is too much of the intellectual to make a film without a point, but he doesn't explain why his core message is important and he doesn't try to present that message in an original way.
The plot developments about the vicious intrigues in international banking are entertaining, but we have seen this story being told before in much more exciting ways. Normally a film about the global financial system would have bankers coming up with flashes of sly wit. There is occasionally some sly wit in this picture, particularly in the last scene ("I am the modern Robin Hood. We will continue taking money from the poor to give to the rich"), but not nearly enough in order to underscore how shrewd and unscrupulous Tourneuil and the other bankers are. This is a pity, because the cast is clearly talented. Lastly, Dittmar's attempt to screw over Phenix Bank is so transparent that it is strange that Tourneuil, being as brilliant as he is, took so long to figure out what Dittmar was up to.
Another major weakness of this film is the super model/prostitute, Nassim. Nassim seduces Tourneuil, plays with his credit card, plays an international game of tag with him, and implies that she will give into his sexual pleasures. I have no problem with Liya Kebede's performance as Nassim, but I feel that she is an unnecessary character who slows down the film whenever she is on screen. If this film focused more on international banking instead of Tourneuil attempts to have sex with Nassim, it would have been a better movie.
"Le Capital" has good performances and is somewhat entertaining, but it is often lacking in interesting dialogue and plot development and gives us little perspective into the Machiavellian, egotistical world of international banking and the financial geniuses who were so sure of their gifts that they almost sent the entire global financial system crashing down.
Basically good, sympathetic, or at least, interesting characters, you
can relate to and care for, encounter obstacles, have to struggle for a
while, but ultimately find their way through an unfriendly or simply
indifferent world. We all love this type of films. "Capital" is
emphatically not one of those, but is nevertheless worthy of attention.
There is at least one character, however, who has not lost her moral compass, and still has some, albeit minuscule weight in the film: the wife of the main protagonist, a former economics professor, and now an ambitious CEO of a leading French bank. Her pull on her husband, however, is only marginally stronger than the one that his extended family, of apparently modest means, has on him. He has feelings for her, as well as for his parents, but those simply cannot compare in intensity to the thrill of money. He is a man who understands "the way the world functions", as he is not shy to explain when questioned. It is a game, in which, typically, rich get richer and poor get poorer, but the reverse is not impossible, as we are told, only improbable. He is cool, calculated, unemotional player, consciously going for high stakes. Just like the others, towards him often inimical characters, who he does not blame for their repugnant behaviour, although certainly would not mind occasionally smashing their heads onto hard surfaces nearby. Of course, we understand that he could not have possible been any different and still belong to the top executive branches of the financial world.
Costa Gavras made his name in the genre of international political thriller, picking his subjects to be the most promising themes for such a film at a given time. It is already telling that he chose the world of high finance, and not of politics, as the most relevant field today. Indeed, the main character is addressed always as "the president", and he is treated as such by everybody he meets. He clearly lives in an entirely different world from the majority of even western, relatively well-off humanity, and his decisions, although made explicitly and exclusively for the benefit of the few, indeed affect, thousands of ordinary mortals. The bank that he directs, and pretty much all the interiors he ever dwells in do not fall far behind many European royal palaces. His world is the world of excess, but in his book it should be unapologetically so.
There is a hint in the film of a possible difference between the old European, and the new aggressive, American business attitudes, that may exist only on the surface. American bankers that we meet maybe cannot pronounce Modigliani's name correctly, but they understand perfectly that their French counterparts are just as greedy, and motivated by the same basic predatory impulses, as they are. As the main character says on one occasion, almost defending his adversaries across the Atlantic: "They are just businessman, like us". The difference seems to be only that the French operate from the high-ceiling, well decorated, old world Parisian buildings, whereas their American partners for their machinations prefer flashy yachts and skyscrapers.
The film certainly lacks the depth and the emotion of the very best Gavras' works, such as "Z" or the "Missing", but it functions well at the level of well written, competently shot, and expertly directed financial drama. It is an insightful, if not too original, commentary on today's state of affairs which to many will ring painfully true. There are also some fairly obvious flaws: the parallel thread with the "super model" that the main hero relentlessly pursues is rather stereotypical, and her attitude towards him appears far-fetched. It would have served the story's development better if the relationship with the multi-dimensional French female employee from London's office was introduced earlier and then further developed. This could have added some intellectual and emotional depth to the main character, beyond what was this way left only sketched. These comments notwithstanding, the film presents an entertaining and informative look at the dynamics of the modern world's new nobility.
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