Money, Sex and Power are big drivers in life, yet Money is the Master. What if you take a huge global bank with a cancer ill CEO, and pick his economist deputy to make him the new CEO temporarily? Gabriel Byrne, and Gad Elmaleh, make for fascinating casting choices in this curious film. Can loyalty be enough to learn the duties on the job really fast? Can investors keep him as a puppet to just increase profits by feeding him the "right short term ideas".
Is this possible even if some of those ideas come from a powerful hedge fund with a major stake in the bank itself? Maybe, but layoffs certainly help the bottom line, so why not trim the fat, and cut to the bone. Any employees who get cut will find other jobs within the economy, it is not the bank's responsibility. Change is good, if it makes profits for the bank no matter what the "human capital" cost. That is the basic concept, and that is all you need to know.
This is really a fable like story about money, power and temptation. Is the root of all evil due to the love of money? The main character finds out in his new role as CEO. Well-known Greek-French Director Costa-Gravras, best known for "State of Siege" in 1972 & "Z", is always looking for a deep story of human meaning, and he found a great one again, the age old theme of money and society.
How can you not enjoy a board room of bankers enjoying themselves and mega profits. Dialogue lines like "I am the new Robin Hood; I steal from the poor and I give more to the rich!" work well. Money can be sexy, and can also be deadly. Many market and moral angles are tested, and this film stands well on its own. The script is lead by a very well played comedian/actor from France called Gad Elmaleh who switched his lines between English and French dialogue.
This is a well-crafted financial story set in the US & Europe, about corruption, morals and humanity within a sell-side bank dancing with buy-side strings. The hedge fund manager is played by personal favorite Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, (The Usual Suspects) is far from sophisticated. He only enjoys dealing with his "French Frog Friends" if it makes him money, otherwise he drops them. This is a more classic tale of temptation, and the moral compass of any man that sometimes loses direction.
The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:
1) There is a lot to learn about being a CEO once inside. The politics and pressures are rarely known well by outsiders never in the seat.
2) The impact of a simple economist into a CEO role can be more than expected if given a chance at power. Absolute power, corrupts absolutely!
3) The capital market pressures of investors on financial institutions need to be better understood. Shareholders do own the company in most cases, when the shares go public.
This was not a very widely released film in the US, Europe or Asia, but is now easily found on Netflix, HBO and Amazon services. Highly recommended for its wide appeal for the everyman, no need to worry about any financial product or model names. The lifestyle of the 1% with its personal politics, sex, wealth and luxurious lifestyle no matter how hectic, is showed in vibrant detail. Highly recommended!
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