Starring: Gad Elmaleh, Gabriel Byrne, Liya Kebede and Natacha Régnier)
Struggling to achieve their goals can be a difficult journey for many people, as they question the lengths they’ll go to in order to accomplish their objectives. But once a person finally realizes their dreams, they discover that outsmarting their competitors in order to maintain their position can be just as difficult, or even more challenging, than their rise to the top. That’s certainly the case with the main character, Marc Tourneuil, in co-writer-director Costa-Gavras’ new drama, ‘Capital,’ a daring commentary on the cut-throat world of international banking and commerce.
‘Capital’ is a darkly comic, suspenseful drama set in the high stakes world of global finance. When Jack Marmande (Daniel Mesguich), the CEO of France’s Phenix Bank, collapses on the golf course, Marc (Gad Elmaleh), young executive, is crowned as his replacement. A whirlwind of ruthless ambition, power struggles, greed and deception ensues as Marc’s brutal ascent is jeopardized. Standing in his way are such obstacles as a hostile takeover attempt from a large American hedge fund led by Dittmar Rigule (Gabriel Byrne), erotic distractions from international supermodel Nassim (Liya Kebede) and adversaries with an agenda for destruction. As Marc struggles to determine how to save both his job and sanity, he receives continuous questioning from his family, including his wife, Diane (Natacha Régnier), over how he pushes his own agenda forward, at the expense of the bank’s other employees and customers.
Gavras created a tense, captivating story that pushed the far-to-realistic, deceitful motivations that led Marc to grow unmerciful in his betrayals of his colleagues who meant to sabotage him. The newly-appointed CEO timidly and naively accepted the position from Jack, as he was unsure of his abilities to run Phenix Bank and the leader’s reasoning for promoting him. But Marc quickly and cleverly grew accustomed to the cut-throat jabs made towards him by Dittmar and his jealous colleagues at the bank, including Antoine de Suze (Bernard Le Coq). Marc’s increasingly growing suspicion that his colleagues would rather act in their own best monetary interests, instead of helping each other and the bank’s customers, is a revealing commentary on the desire to only benefit your own capitalism across the global financial stage.
Elmaleh was smartly cast to portray the seemingly cunning Marc, as the actor intriguingly and captivatingly balanced the CEO’s growing ambitions for his own personal power and money with the regret of hurting innocent people along the way. Marc condescendingly reassures Diane that his increasingly unethical treatment of his employees is meant to secure their own stability, and his family that laying people off around the world will ultimately benefit everyone. But the actor subtly used his introverted, hesitant body language to represent his character’s true apprehension on swindling thousands of people out of their jobs. Mixed with the continuous stream of thoughts of apprehension towards his deceit, which he relies far too heavily on to maintain his new-found luxurious life, the actor’s portrayal of the troubled CEO makes for the perfect anti-hero in the daring economic drama.
Experienced cinematographer Eric Gautier helped draw attention to the ever-increasing tension between Marc and his colleagues as he tries to cleverly find a way to undermine their determination to cut him out of Phenix Bank. Gautier cleverly used distinctively intimate and personal shots of Elmaleh and his co-stars, from wide shots in the bank’s board room, to show the financiers’ disdain for each other. He smartly also used close-ups of the actors as the characters are sent into feelings of frenzy and disdain for each other, over their perceived acts of retaliation and defiance.
Another intriguing visual element Gautier incorporated into the story for ‘Capital’ was the shots of Marc conducting business with Dittmar and his fellow colleagues over video chats on his computer. While the characters’ continued correspondence through a screen could have easily become tedious and mundane, the talented cinematographer smartly focused on Marc’s increasingly anxious physical responses to his colleagues. Gautier would effortlessly linger on Marc losing his patience and diverting his attention to distractions he found more appealing, such as clips of Nassim on his television. The cinematographer’s intimate shots of the characters reactions to each other were just as telling as the conniving words they often threw at each other.
‘Capital’ is a riveting, truthful portrayal of the deceitful motivations and actions scheming, over-achieving workers take out against each other. Gavras wrote a powerfully suspicious anti-hero who regularly not only battles with the colleagues who wish to push him out of Phenix Bank, but also with his own conscience over hurting other people, just to further his own career. The smartly cast Elmaleh subtly used his introverted, hesitant body language to represent his character’s apprehensions of resorting to immoral behavior to keep his job, proving that a repenting anti-hero is the perfect backdrop for revealing commentary on the corrupt driving forces in capitalism.
Written by: Karen Benardello