Review: HUMAN CAPITAL

Fine cast boosts English language remake of Italian drama.

“Human Capital” is from a script by Oren Moverman (see the excellent “Rampart”), which is the second adaptation of the Stephen Amidon novel by the same name. It was previously adapted in Italian and French in 2013. Like most of Moverman’s moody work, uncomfortable silences permeate the narrative that is marked by characters with personality flaws and vices haunting them as they grapple with impossible situations.

I’ve not seen the former film, but director Marc Meyers’ approach seems akin to a foreign language offering. It’s a mature narrative with a suitably smarmy Peter Sarsgaard. It also gives audiences a rare opportunity for tough guy Liev Schreiber to beg and cry on screen.

When struggling real estate agent Drew (Schreiber) drops his daughter Shannon (Maya Hawke) off at her boyfriend’s house, he discovers that the boy’s father is an ultra rich hedge fund manager named Quint (Sarsgaard). Drew decides to check out the grounds, and while aimlessly walking in the home’s backyard, he notices Quint’s wife, Carrie (Marisa Tomei) staring out from her bedroom window. Carrie looks sad, and Drew later makes an uncomfortable mess of smalltalk with her.

After returning home, Drew’s new wife, Ronnie (Betty Gabriel), informs him that she’s pregnant with twins. Because Drew has been hiding his financial woes from her, the announcement makes him even more desperate to find a way out of his hole. This naturally leads him to moneybags Quint. And things get a lot more complicated when Quint and Carrie’s son’s Jeep is involved in a deadly hit and run. Just who might have been driving is an open question that the police are keen on answering.

Well-shot and acted, “Human Capital” is small project that benefits greatly from its deep ensemble cast. Paul Sparks (who was so compelling in Netflix’ “House of Cards”) plays a love interest for Carrie, and Alex Wolff (“Hereditary”) is the on again, off again infatuation of Shannon. Watching these talented actors is never uninteresting, however, the drama plays in low gear.

The structure of the film does help sharpen viewer attention. We see the same events from various perspectives played out of time until they coalesce in the film’s closing act. The mundane story might seem out of place in a market saturated with blood-soaked and bullet-riddled action flicks. It often seems that Hollywood is resolved to end every film, drama or no, with gunfire. And to that extent, a movie like “Human Capital” offers an engaging slice of life.

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