Costa-Gavras thrills fans with “Capital”

Costa-Gavras, arguably the greatest living progressive filmmaker still shooting political pictures, is back with a new thriller about the banking industry, Capital. This behind-the-scenes exposé of the banksters and their nefarious high finance manipulations and machinations is a fictional, highly entertaining counterpart to Charles Ferguson’s Oscar winning 2010 documentary Inside Job, about Wall Street’s massive defrauding of the people – at taxpayer expense.

Capital is in French with some English, with Gabriel Byrne co-starring as an American-style banker seeking to impose U.S. policies on a European-based bank headed by Moroccan-born actor Gad Elmaleh, who has a penchant for quoting, of all people, Chairman Mao. “Let 1,000 flowers bloom,” and all that. Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede plays an elusive runway beauty-the stuff that capitalist fantasies are made of.

In 1969, Costa-Gavras’s classic Z – about the assassination of Greece’s peace candidate and the overthrow of the government by the Greek colonels-was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and won the Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Editing. Costa-Gavras went on to make many leftist films, such as 1972’s State of Siege, about South American urban guerrillas, and 1982’s Missing, with Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, about the aftermath of the U.S.-backed coup against Chile’s democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende.

In any case, the stylish, briskly paced Capital shows that at age 80, Costa-Gavras remains a master of political cinema and is at the top of his game. Take my word for it, PW readers will love Das-uh, I mean Le Capital.


Directed by Costa-Gavras

2012, R, 114 min.

Photo: Scene from “Capital.”


Ed Rampell
Ed Rampell

Ed Rampell is an LA-based film historian and critic, author of "Progressive Hollywood: A People’s Film History of the United States," and co-author of "The Hawaii Movie and Television Book." He has written for Variety, Television Quarterly, Cineaste, New Times L.A., and other publications. Rampell lived in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Micronesia, reporting on the nuclear-free and independent Pacific and Hawaiian Sovereignty movements.