Meanwhile, Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) Giovanni's neglected wife distracts herself with a quixotic and whimsical quest to save an abandoned theatre. Based on American writer Stephen Amidon's 2004 novel, Virzì tells the story in a series of chapters which replays the summer of the meeting and the winter of the accident from the varying perspectives of different characters, hiding the identity of the hit and run driver like a Rashomon-style whodunit. Although this thriller like approach makes the unveiling of the story intermittently interesting, Human Capital stumbles on its blandly predictable, two dimensional characters and the implausible melodrama of its latter stages. The social tragedy is reduced to a parable of individual greed rather than any deeper structural problem in Italian society, and the one working class character, the unfortunate cyclist, is reduced to a narrative MacGuffin.
The other characters are either hopelessly venal, such as the utterly abhorrent Dino - one of the film's unexplained mystery is what his second wife, a psychiatrist played by Valeria Golino sees in him - or insipidly stupid, in the case of Carla. Indeed, stupidity becomes something of a narrative motor as the film progresses with characters making transparently and senselessly dumb decisions in order to exacerbate the dramatic irony and expedite the increasingly convoluted plot. A character types an incriminating email and then wanders off for a cathartic shower, leaving the computer on and the email open on the desktop. At this point, the viewer might begin to envy the cyclist for having left Human Capital fairly early.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty