Saturday, May 2, 2020

Movie Reviews: Human Capital

Human Capital
directed by Marc Meyers
This is a remake of an Italian movie. I decided to watch this because of what looked like a frontline cast. That was a mistake. 

This movie had a decent plot, which seemed incredibly familiar to me for some reason. 

It touched a little bit on class differences and could have with some reworking gone down the same path as Parasite, Crash, or other movies that examined familial, class, racial, or social conflicts. Human Capital also made a nod to Rashomon, with several different narratives exploring the same events from different viewpoints or different times. 

But all the same, despite the cast, the writing and therefore the story drags. The writer(s) and director chose to spend a great deal of time of storylines and subplots that I thought were uninteresting and in some cases almost irrelevant. 

There's almost too much going on in this movie. When you have Liev Schreiber and Marisa Tomei as leads why not let them carry the story a little more? I thought there were missed opportunities galore in this film. Large portions of the film are dull. The first third of the movie showed promise but I just didn't feel the same about the rest of the movie. 

It is always fascinating and humbling to me to realize that no matter how well you might think you're doing there's someone, actually lots of people out there to whom your success is no big deal, piddling, and perhaps in some cases even laughable.

On the other hand no matter how poorly you think you might be doing there are plenty of people who would be ecstatic to have your opportunities. It's all relative.

Drew Hagel (Liev Schreiber) is a slightly over extended real estate agent with a high school aged daughter Shannon (Maya Hawke) and second wife Ronnie (Betty Gabriel), a psychiatrist. Like everyone does, Drew wants the best for his daughter Shannon, which is why he's paying thru the nose to send her to an expensive prep school.

At this school Shannon has become the girlfriend of the quiet Jaime Manning (Fred Hechinger). Jaime's issues are immediately obvious to anyone who's taken time to get to know him, which Drew has not. 

Jaime's parents are Quint Manning (Peter Sarsgaard) a hedge fund manager and Carrie (Marisa Tomei). Carrie may have originally been a trophy wife but has since reinvented herself as a socially responsible socialite who seems content to redirect some of her husband's wealth to better purposes. Drew is eager to move up in the world and rub shoulders with wealthier people. So he takes up Quint on the offer to join him in tennis doubles. 

Being a man and therefore more prone to risky behavior, confrontation and braggadocio, Drew also decides that as long as he's hanging out with the big boys he will play big boy games. 

Feeling a little stung about the not so veiled slights that Quint and his oleaginous lawyer Godeep (Aasif Mandvi) hurl at his chosen profession, Drew decides to prove to them that he too is a big baller by buying into the hedge fund for the minimum stake of $300,000. That Drew can't really afford this is not as important as meeting the perceived challenge to his masculinity.

That's just a VERY small slice of the plot though it should have been larger. A separate tragedy strikes which could see both families lined up on opposite sides from each other. This tragedy will also see some secrets revealed that some people wanted kept quiet.  

Although some key identities are kept unconfirmed for huge swaths of the film, perceptive viewers will have figured them out long before the ending. Such viewers may also wonder why the filmmakers kept them "behind the curtain" for as long as they did because in my opinion, the move not only didn't help the story, it actually hurt it.

All in all I thought this movie was mediocre. It wasn't something that I am going to remember for being horribly bad or amazingly good. I did like Schreiber and Sarsgaard in their respective roles. Schreiber can believably veer between pathetic and menacing in the same scene, while Sarsgaard seemingly always radiates contempt and privilege.
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