Human Capital
Human Capital

Directed by Paolo Virzi

Starring Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Matilde Gioli, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi


Against the background of the super rich with the financial crisis lurking in the shadows, Human Capital looks at the steps we take to acquire and protect the things we want, be it wealth, family, love or self worth. It is a puzzle: with the central event taking place at the start, the audience is treated to three differing perspectives of the events leading up to and afterwards. The film is divided into four separate chapters, covering the life of three central characters, with the fourth chapter amalgamating these views for the finale and resolution.

As a waiter is seriously injured in a hit and run accident on the night before Christmas Eve, we are cast back six months to examine the events leading up to this through three differing, interconnected perspectives: Dino Ossolo (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) a middle-aged real estate agent concerned about his finances and social standing; Carla Bernaschi (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) a bored, rich housewife rediscovering her own passion and watching her family fall apart; and Serrena Ossolo (Matilde Gioli), young girl balancing the demands of social standing and new love. As these event intertwine, we learn the true cost of their desires.

Based on the novel by American author Stephen Amidon (but flawlessly transposed to a post-GFC Italy) Human Capital is not the morality play that last years similarly themed Child Pose was. Instead it sacrifices some of the power of its message for an increased sense of uncertainty, and perhaps a bit more nuance. Here its Rashomon-like structure pays off. No one in Human Capital is completely innocent; instead they are all a mixture of both villain and victim of fate. Perhaps this does lessen the impact of the film slightly, but the return is that the story is more complex, with those puzzle pieces fitting in a somewhat unexpected fashion and all enriched with a tinge of sly black humour running through it.

Paolo Virzi’s adaptation is a beautifully sumptuous piece, with an eye for background detail that enriches many of the parallel plots. The cast also absolutely nails their performances, in particular the two female leads. Matilde Gioli makes a stunning screen debut as the confident and driven Serrena, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi brings a level depth and vulnerability to the rather flighty (at initial glance) Carla. These performance anchor their chapters and make for riveting viewing.

A series of smart thought out jabs rather than a gut wrenching emotional body blow, Human Capital is a compelling examination of how the other half live, and at exactly what cost.


Human Capital screens at Somerville Auditorium UWA until Sunday, November 30, and at Joondalup Pines from Tuesday, December 2, until Sunday, December 7,  as part of Lotterywest Festival Films. Go to for more information.