Cinema Verite: Our Review of ‘Capital In The Twenty-First Century’

It’s hard not get mad sometimes…

Capital In The Twenty-First Century is one of those movies that will make you angry because you can actually see it happening in front of your eyes on the day to day news.

It’s one of the most potentially controversial and relevant topics of the modern age; economic inequality.  Based on the international bestseller by economist Thomas Piketty, the captivating documentary is a stunning journey through wealth and power, shattering the popular assumption that the accumulation of capital runs hand in hand with social progress as it shines light on today’s growing inequalities.  With some carefully sprinkled pop culture references along the way, it’s a look at the past as we carefully plow a way to the future.

Capital In The Twenty-First Century is one of those rare pieces of cinema that manages to be intellectually enraging but wholly entertaining all at the same time.

It’s a weighty topic to be sure, but director Justin Pemberton tackles this material with a real heady balance and shocking clarity to it all.

Pemberton allows it all to play like a very relevant alarm bell that is going off in our ears but never once being condescending about it all.  While it occasionally has some reductive moments it couldn’t be coming out at a more relevant time as we’re in the midst of quite a bit of what they’re actually talking about in the movie.  The subjects are kept pretty remote from the narrative as it all gets driven along by clips from Wall Street, The Simpsons & It’s A Wonderful Life and in many ways this film feels like a very well done version of Coles Notes.  A limited series deep dive could have made for some really fascination material but as it is, it really works as a nice primer into the subject that should make a fair amount of audiences stand up and really pay attention to issues like this that are actually happening before our eyes in the midst of this pandemic.

Ultimately, Capital In The Twenty-First Century doesn’t always capture the real depth of the issue which it is trying to tackle but it crafts it all into a very slick and digestible narrative that will spur some audiences into learning more about economic inequality and the troubling issues around it in our capitalistic society which will grant had plenty of pros to it, but far too many cons.

Capital In The 21st Century is streaming from the Hot Docs cinema as a part of their Hot Docs at Home program via Virtual Cinema, for more info you can click right here.

  • Release Date: 5/8/2020
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');