The newly appointed CEO of a giant European investment bank works to hold on to his power when an American hedge fund company tries to buy out his company.
After proving invaluable to his boss who has since fallen ill, Marc (Gad Elmaleh) is suddenly ushered into the CEO role at Phenix Bank, based in France. While the rest of the board thinks they’ll be able to play puppet master with the untested and young leader, he quickly forges his own path and, it turns out, Marc has ambitions and schemes of his own, all with one goal in mind: earning as much money as possible. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Costa-Gavras (“Missing”, “Music Box”), the film is about an amoral man who begins to lean towards immoral, with each grab for corporate and financial power.
What I particularly liked about it, is that we see Marc as young and naive but at the same time, relentless in his pursuit for power, and who’s gradually discouraged by his discovery of the industry’s dark side. This also takes a toll on his home life. His wife, not lured in by wealth and power, begs him to quit and go back to teaching and writing but he will have none of it. After all, he is the CEO of one of the biggest banks in Europe. In one scene, as they prepare for a luscious gala, she shows off her evening dress but because it is not the attire that DIOR personally sent over, he will not let her accompany him unless she wears it. She does so, very begrudgingly.
It appears though, that Marc has much larger aspirations, and promptly begins integrating his power, which involves both alleviating and opposing a group of American stockholders led by a nefarious American named Dittmar (Gabriel Byrne). It also involves terminating thousands of working-class employees around the world in order to increase the company’s stock, among other abhorrent business decisions, all of which Marc sets in motion without any apparent twinge of a conscience. The film moves along at a steady pace with solid performances by all throughout. We get shady dealings and backroom politics and we are introduced to characters to whom we know nothing about and have no idea of where they’re going, are they with Marc or are they against him?
Unfortunately, by the end, we’re not really told as there are a lot of unanswered questions. For me though, what really took me out of the film, is when Marc does, what they call in movies, “breaking the fourth wall.” What this means, is that during the movie, he stops what he’s doing and turns to the camera and addresses the audience. While this worked to great effect in comedies like “Airplane” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, it’s more of a distraction here and does not work. There are also some cheesy scenes where Marc fantasizes about degrading and striking some of his rivals, and granted, while it works the first time, every instance after, we know it’s coming as the same piece of music builds up and then we cut back to him doing nothing, obviously still reveling in his rival’s make-believe annihilation.
There are also scenes of Marc’s involvement with a supermodel that ultimately, go nowhere at all. If they had taken these scenes out of the movie nobody would have noticed. Marc’s motivations, at times, are also confusing. One moment he wants to help somebody better themselves, the next, he doesn’t care. I do however, like what the film was trying to do, in a world of corporate greed, when things fall apart, who do we get to point our fingers at? Well, unfortunately, in this film, we will never know.
In stores June 10th
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