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Human Capital (Il capitale umano) – Capital Crimes


Human Capital

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi & Fabrizio Gifuni
© BAC Films


Italy’s submission to the Oscars for Best Foreign Film is one of the treats of this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival.

Based on the 2004 novel of the same title by American writer Stephen Amidon, the movie, directed by Paolo Virzì, has been a critical and commercial success in Italy.

Why was it made in Italy?  Likely because Amidon “is currently working as ‘Storyteller-in-Residence’ at the Holden School, an arts college founded by writer and director Alessandro Baricco in Torino, Italy,  ‘It’s a good gig,’ Amidon says.”

Its narrative structure moves back and forth over a period of six months, and shifts its point of view among three main characters over three chapters which reveal further twists about previously seen details in the story.

It’s Christmastime. The opening scene shows a catering crew cleaning up after a gala event, focusing on one waiter.  This waiter has no lines, never meets the principal characters, yet he will change all their lives profoundly and irreversibly.

The first chapter centers on Dino Ossola (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), a longtime unemployed husband and father who offers himself up to the Madoff-like Giovanni (Fabrizio Gifuni) whose son, Massimiliano (Gugliemo Pinelli) is his daughter Serena’s (Matilde Gioli) boyfriend.

We see the same scenes extended from Giovanni’s wife Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi- sister of supermodel and former French First Lady Carla Bruni) in the second chapter.  A melancholic bored housewife, she finds a cause that promises to give meaning to her life, rescuing a deteriorated theater. Sadly, her efforts reinforce the lack of control she has over her own destiny.

The third chapter is from Serena’s perspective, and this is where the movie twists and turns our perception of events we’ve already seen occur twice. Serena is not dazzled by wealth like her father. She is wise beyond her years, and I wanted to believe she is the moral center in this drama but, wonderfully, there is room to argue she is not.

Rather than explain what the term human capital means, I encourage you to learn that from the movie.  Don’t worry, a precise definition is provided.

Human Capital was a huge success in Italy.  It won Italy’s equivalent of the Oscar, the David di Donatello Award, beating the Italian movie Il grande bellazza (The Great Beauty) that won the Best Foreign Film Oscar.

It has the gravitas of a quality television show like House Of Cards, but that may not be substantial enough to win the Oscar in an unprecedented crowded field.

Regardless, the remake trolls are on this.  Amidon disclosed that there is interest in adopting the Italian version of the original American novel for the U.S.




Italy, 2013, 109 min., in Italian with English subtitles

Friday, November 21st at 9:05pm & Sunday, November 23rd at 6:40pm at Plaza Frontenac



This site was borne of my passion for movies, particularly French films. I have spent time in France and am fluent in the language, hence the “le”. The “snob” part, while of French origin, is not meant to intimidate, but rather an effort to reclaim the word from the pretentious, just as the gay community has done with the word “queer.” We’re all snobs; we all like what we like.

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