Not so long ago, one go-to gimmick for indie dramas was the “everything’s connected” plot, where different stories would intertwine, “Crash”-like. Director Marc Meyers and screenwriter Oren Moverman’s “Human Capital” (based on a Stephen Amidon novel) brings that structure back, but with mixed results. A magnificent cast only partially compensates for the fizzling narrative.
“Human Capital” is divided into three parts, each covering the same stretch of days. In the first, struggling real estate broker Drew Hagel (Liev Schreiber) persuades financier Quint Manning (Peter Sarsgaard) to let him buy into a pricey hedge fund. In part two, Quint’s bored socialite wife Carrie (Marisa Tomei) contemplates buying an old theater — and having an affair. In the third, Drew’s daughter Shannon (Maya Hawke) becomes overprotective toward drug-dealing classmate Ian (Alex Wolff).
The three strands are bound by a tragedy: a hit-and-run accident for which one of these characters is responsible. “Human Capital” is also concerned with the subtle gradations of privilege, between the mega-rich Manning family and the merely upper-middle-class Hagels.
Frankly, the payoff to the movie’s mystery is unsatisfying after all the buildup. None of these three stories really works as a short film on its own.
But all three are gripping until they peter out. The Shannon storyline is especially fine: Hawke is one of our most promising young actors, and the problems of her rising generation seem so much more relevant than yet another tale about rich folks losing a little bit of money.
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.
Playing: DirecTV; available March 20 on VOD