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When the CEO of France's Phenix Bank collapses on the golf course, Machiavellian young executive Marc Tourneuil is crowned as his replacement. A whirlwind of ruthless ambition, power struggles, greed and deception ensues as Tourneuil's brutal ascent is jeopardized by a hostile takeover attempt from a large American hedge fund led by Dittmar Rigule, erotic distractions from international supermodel Nassim, and adversaries with an agenda for destruction.Written by
Cohen Media Group
Gad Elmaleh is outstanding in a Gallic answer to WALL STREET
LE CAPITAL, (French) director Costa-Gavras, starring Gad Elmaleh, with Gabriel Byrne. Viewed at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival. Costa-Gavras' "Le Capital" is extremely glossy (in the good sense of the word) and an extremely penetrating high-end study of the workings of international Banking Conglomerates, in short, another typical Costa-Gavras exposé of the evils around us that run our lives without our realizing it.
At the beginning of the film the powerful head of a gigantic French investment bank, Le Phenix, collapses on a golf course and is diagnosed with terminal cancer "of the balls" (says the subtitle) --i.e., the testicles. With the implication that financial power mongers have to trade in sexual potency for financial power we have the first hint of the implicit satire to come.
The moribund CEO, passing over old cronies and more obvious candidates for the post he is about to vacate, hand picks a company nobody, a young scholarly banker, Marc Tourneuil, to the position of president thinking he will be easily manipulated during a temporary transition period.
Marc, played forcefully by handsome Moroccan born actor Gad Elmaleh, (Casablanca, 1971) turns out to be nobody's patsy, starts firing people right and left, and is soon running the bank for his own personal gain with the old timers plotting fecklessly against him. He gets involved in a multinational hostile takeover scheme masterminded remotely over office television by a sinister smooth talking Englishman (Gabriel Byrne). On the way in a complex effort to destroy him he is set up with a slinky black supermodel (apparently modeled on obstreperous English supermodel Naomi Campbell) who gives him a hard time in London and Tokyo before he finally has to rape her in a stretch limo in New York to gratify his methodically frustrated lust.
At the very end he finesses all the insiders trying to double cross him by threatening to expose the whole deal which will send them all to jail for insider trading. The deal in question has forced the collapse of Phenix and the creation of a new successor entity. At the foundation board meeting where Tourneuil is of course named the new CEO he announces that as their own "Robin du Bois" (Robin Hood) he will continue to rob the poor so that they can get even richer. Wild cheering goes up all around the table as actor Elmaleh turns to the camera and tells us in the audience directly that this will keep going on as long as we let it go on. Perhaps not the most subtle way to end this awesome tale of financial exploitation and greed at the highest levels, but maybe subtlety is not enough to wake us up.
The real meat of the film is the brilliant way in which Gavras presents the life styles of the super-greedy rich both in the work place and in their social life. For one party scene he apparently rented the entire sculpture foyer of the Louvre, as realistically lavish a party as has ever been seen on screen. All the other scenes follow suite in this typically excellent Costa Gavras mise-en-scene, a visual pleasure all the way and a heady thriller to boot.
"Le Capital" was not a big hit in France when released in November and was met with mixed reviews on IMDb and elsewhere, but since Americans do not have the same expectations as the French "Le capital" may enjoy a better reception here than it had on home ground. Gad Elamleh, for example, is far better known in France as a stand up comedian than a movie actor and his interpretation of banker Marc Tourneuil has been called unrealistic, but to an American audience that has never seen him before he will come across as quite convincing -- a handsome cad you end up rooting for because the other people he is up against are so much more evil and disgusting than he is. If anybody out there thinks that Costa Gavras has "lost it" at age eighty (as some have said) I would say they have another thought coming. In any case, having Consantine Costa Gavras visit the City of Angels to present his latest film was a singular feather in the hat of Film Independent.
"Le Capital" will go on general release in this country in October and then we shall see what people here have to say.
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