City banker Roger and his acquisitive wife Arabella represent the new money living in Pepys Road, South London, whilst elderly widow Petunia, recently diagnosed with a tumour, has lived there all her...
The residents of an affluent street in London are busy getting on with their lives, when suddenly something very strange happens. Every house in the street has an identical, mysterious postcard pushed through their letterboxes that simply states "WE WANT WHAT YOU HAVE". At first, the residents of Pepys Road dismiss the notes as some sort of marketing campaign but gradually as events begin to escalate it becomes clear that there is something more to this strange occurrence than something as mundane as that.Written by
Nearly four decades ago ITV broadcast a serial THE CREZZ, set in and around a London street in which lives of different families interacted with one another. It wasn't really well received at that time, as its time-slot was shunted around from 9.00 p.m., to 10.30 p.m. and then to the graveyard slot in the afternoons.
Based on the best-selling satirical novel by John Lanchester, CAPITAL takes the same scenario and gives it a savage twist. The action takes place in an affluent suburb of southwest London, where house-prices increase monthly beyond the £2m. mark. The street's name is Pepys Road, a clever allusion to the seventeenth century diarist whose chronicles of central London offer a valuable window into the mores of the period. Euros Lyn's production achieves a similar effect for the modern era.
There are at least four intertwining stories centering mostly around the fact that most of the residents of Pepys Road keep receiving unpleasant missives based around the legend WE WANT WHAT YOU HAVE. This strategy might suggest some kind of terrorist campaign; and indeed the terrorist squad are involved, as they interview the innocent son of the Asian corner shop owner (Danny Ashok) on suspicion of subversive activity.
While Lyn's production works towards a satisfying plot-resolution, the chief focus of interest centers on the interaction between characters; the contrast, for instance, between long-standing resident Petunia (Gemma Jones) who has spent six decades in the same house; and Polish builder Bogdan (real name Zbigniew) (Radoslaw Kaim) who makes a highly lucrative living out of renovating the houses to destruction. Through such contrasts CAPITAL explores the inherent racism within urban society - even though people claim to be color-blind, and have "accepted" first or second generation immigrants such as Ahmet (Adeel Akhtar) and his family, they might not be so accommodating to Eastern Europeans.
We are also encouraged to reflect on the old adage of whether money lies at the root of all evil. Banker Roger (Toby Jones) seems respectable enough, but becomes highly disappointed when his annual bonus is £30K. rather than the expected £2m. When he loses his job he resembles the proverbial ship without a rudder. In such a money- conscious world, we wonder how people are actually going to survive, especially when they are so suspicious of outsiders.
This three-part adaptation comes to a resolution of sorts, with most of the characters looking forward to a brighter future; but the final shot of a close-up of another missive arriving through someone's postbox bearing the legend WE WANT WHAT YOU HAVE suggests otherwise. Rapacity and racism go hand in hand, and nothing can ever eradicate them.
Engagingly filmed with a series of establishing shots situating Pepys Road within the overall panorama of central London, interspersed with more intimate sequences based around the shot/two shot formula, CAPITAL is both vivid and pertinent.
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