Gad Elmaleh plays a bank manager caught up in intrigue in 'Capital.' (Cohen Media Group)
While it does artfully expose the twisted machinations of high-finance, “Capital” plays things a bit too broad and scattered to be effective.
Directed by the 80-year-old Costa-Gavras (“Missing,” “Z,” “Music Box”), the film does have a healthy amount of anti-establishment zeal, and it’s certainly dealing with the overriding economic issues of our times — income inequality and corporate malfeasance — but its central character, Marc Tourneuil, is too fuzzy to be captivating.
Played by Gad Elmaleh, Tourneuil takes over the controls of one of France’s largest banks when his mentor is felled by testicular cancer (such is French wit). The board members who approve Tourneuil’s appointment see him as a temporary placeholder, and he knows he will have to be ruthless to stay in power.
Soon enough Tourneuil has been sucked into a profitable (for Tourneuil) scheme with an American hedge fund manager (Gabriel Byrne): If he can lay off enough people and make his bank more profitable, Tourneuil will make millions in bonuses.
So he opens the bank up to personnel evaluations. Not surprisingly, the underlings give their bosses low grades and Tourneuil has an excuse to fire thousands of managers. Short-term profits skyrocket.
But things get ugly when the hedge fund manager tries to force Tourneuil into taking over an ailing bank that will surely take his own bank down.
Throughout the film Tourneuil speaks directly to the camera, so we’re aware he’s aware just how onerous his world and actions are. Which doesn’t build a lot of sympathy. And then there’s the gorgeous supermodel (Liya Kebede) the married Tourneuil chases after — she fits in nowhere.
In the end, “Capital” is just a dark comic sketch of bald-faced greed, with little nuance or real feeling. As even it makes clear, its subject matter deserves more.
Rated R for sexual content, language and drug use
Running time: 114 minutes