Human capital: what is the price of life?

Article published on Jan. 18, 2015
Article published on Jan. 18, 2015

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

How can a simple gesture change our lives, change us, and everyone around us? What is one capable of doing to progress economically?   How can one be unhappy while having an apparently perfect life, living in luxury? How can one leave this perfect world to find happiness in a poorer, simpler environment?

Human Capital has earned the Public's Prize in the Seville Festival of European Film, a film by the Italian Paolo Virzí, based on a novel by the American Stephen Amidon. A movie charged with social and financial criticism that leaves us with many questions, the most important of which: what is the price of life? What is the human capital?

The movie begins by showing us a road accident in which a cyclist crushed by a car, and from that point on, a structure of chapters tells us the same story from three viewpoints, from the perspective of three different characters. Three people with very different personalities that find themselves involved in this accident.

There's an ambitious real estate agent that intends to prosper economically and socially, and that falls, gullible, into a financial trap, losing more than he had, and betraying his daughter to avoid bankruptcy.

Then the perfect wife of the businessman, with a perfect mansion and son, that nevertheless lives an empty life, full of banalities and insecurities, and realizes that she wants more out of her life just as everything around her crumbles.

Finally a young woman that, in front of others, pretends to be with her millionaire ex, as a favor to him, but finds happiness in a secret relationship with a man with a problematic past whom her friends reject without seeing who he is beyond appearance and prejudice.

All of this lacks importance when faced with something so inevitable as death and the value that a person's life can have, or, better yet, the price that it is given. Because in this capitalist society without principles, even life has a price. The Human Capital is the calculation of the indemnization, in this case of the hit cyclist, in function of age and life expectancy, of the perspectives of the generation of income and the emotional damage done to the family. Meanwhile, the others can keep living their lives.

It's sad, but that's the way it is.