Review by Sean Boelman
An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Stephen Amidon, Human Capital is a new melodrama leaning on the strengths of its vast ensemble. However, despite the talent visible in front of the camera, the film doesn’t quite connect because of its off-putting narrative structure and inconsistent tone.
The movie explores two families as their lives become increasingly intertwined when tragedy strikes. As is the case with most sprawling melodramas like this, it takes a while for all of the pieces to fall into place because of the amount of subplots that are present in the story, but the film is further complicated by a narrative structure that jumps around a bit too often for its own good.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the movie is that it can’t seem to find a clear protagonist. There are three main storylines in the film, and they all end up connecting, but as soon as one starts to become extremely compelling, the movie pivots to another perspective. The result is an interconnected web of points that are interesting but have no real impact.
There easily could have been a greater amount of emotional impact had writer Owen Moverman balanced the storylines a bit more evenly. Of course, since this is an adaptation, there is the possibility that some of the issues come from trying to condense the source material down into the size of a single feature-length film. Still, it feels like something is missing.
As is, it is hard to get invested in any of the character arcs because they are so broken up. Although the individual stories — a man facing financial ruin after making a massive mistake, a woman debating whether her husband is the person she thinks he is, and a teenager trying to find their place in an uninviting world — are interesting, they ultimately don’t blend together very well.
Regardless, the ensemble does the best that they can with what they are given, making the most out of the messy script. Perhaps the biggest standout is Alex Wolff, who in his small supporting role infuses the most emotion into the movie out of anyone in the cast. Liev Schreiber and Marisa Tomei are solid as well, but have both given stronger turns.
On a technical level, Amidon’s film is entirely competent, albeit lacking in any real creative flair. Apart from a few interesting shots, the movie is visually dull, bringing very little life to the material. It is undeniable that the cast is the saving grace of this film, because otherwise, it is an entirely unimpressive feat.
Human Capital is watchable because of the talents of its cast, but it doesn’t bring much more to the table. With a couple more drafts of the script and a more passionate director, this could have been an interesting movie, but in its current form, this is a disappointment.
Human Capital hits VOD on March 20.