Thursday, March 5, 2015

Striving in a suburb of Milan

It's possible to argue that we live in a time when soap opera has replaced social criticism. You'll find trace elements of this trend in even the best of episodic TV and also in movies such as Paolo Virzi's Human Capital. The movie brings various economic classes together for a story that includes a buffoonish real-estate agent (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), a wealthy hedge fund billionaire (Fabrizio Gifuni) and his former-actress wife (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). The lives of these and a variety of other characters become entangled as Virzi examines the ways in which ambition and greed spawn their own brand of misery. Virzi tells his story from different vantage points that revolve around events that transpire after a bicyclist dies when he's run off the road by an unidentified driver. The drama extends into the younger generation as we learn more about the real-estate agent's daughter (Matilde Gioli), a young woman who's breaking up her relationship with the billionaire's son (Guglielmo Pinelli). Virzi's use of multiple viewpoints doesn't exactly result in Rashomon-like revelations, but it produces an engaging look at those who live the good life or aspire to it. It falls to Gioli's Serena and a teen-aged outsider (Giovanni Anzaldo) to try to escape from the vice-like grip of social aspiration. Enjoyable and just trenchant enough to keep all that soap opera from overflowing.

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