Inspired by a real life fashion mogul, Greed follows fictional Richard McCreedy (Greedy McGreedy) on the eve of his 60th birthday. It’s an all-out Roman gladiator extravaganza in Greece, with real lions and plenty of drama.
Greed is tonally a mess. Was it meant to be a comedy, a satire, a Greek tragedy, or a revenge fantasy? Who knows. The individual elements were all well directed, and cut apart worked well. However, sewn together in a haphazard manner, it created a jarring experience. There were at least three films of content within this, so I guess writer/director Michael Winterbottom was feeling the spirit of Greed when he shoved everything and the kitchen sink in the film too.
There are just too many storylines. Most of the film focuses on the week long preparations for McCreedy’s 60th party. But they also add in flashbacks following his school life and early career, flashbacks following his recent legal issues, a romance with his ex-wife, his daughter filming a reality TV show, his son developing an Oedipus complex, an almost completely separate narrative of his biographer travelling the world and interviewing people who have crossed McCreedy’s path, storylines about the workers in factories in Sri Lanka, AND a storyline about the plight of refugees on Greece’s beach shores. It’s exhausting even listing them.
Following the young McCreedy was interesting, and events assistant Amanda’s storyline in the third act was engaging and ultimately satisfying. The exposé elements in Sri Lanka were equally interesting, but the storylines just didn’t work together. Instead of giving us an interesting and nuanced story, we’re flung about and it’s unclear what the point truly was.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Everyone is having fun, and no one is doing a bad job, but they're all utterly hateful, bar perhaps assistant Amanda and the real people - refugees and factory workers. Steve Coogan is sleazy and vile and clearly having fun in the role, but it was very difficult to cope with just how awful he was. His children were poorly formed and ultimately unnecessary. Isla Fisher was charming as always but was given almost nothing to do which seemed a waste. I did however love any scene involving Tim Key’s Sam, a man who just desperately, desperately, wants to get this coliseum built before the party.
The film also chose to portray the Sri Lankan workers and Syrian refugees with real people, adding a much needed level of realism.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The film ends with a long sequence of statistics around wealth, poverty, and the fashion industry. These figures are confronting, so why on earth someone decided Abba's ‘Money, Money, Money’ was the appropriate choice, I will never understand. But, it's still stuck in my head.
The film displayed wonderful locations and costumes that showed the extreme contrast of excess and poverty. During the first act there’s use of text which makes the film seem like a mockumentary, but then disappears later on, adding to that tonal unbalance.
"A Remarkable Woman. Very Kind. "
Genre: Drama. Comedy.
The director Michael Winterbottom has said his aim was to hide serious issues within a comedic film to get the message to people who might not necessarily seek out information about such issues. Unfortunately his Trojan horse film instead feels like a messy piñata. The film is bloated and fails to hit the nail for any of its subject matters. I’d advise giving this one a miss, and instead seeking out documentaries and information regarding the horrific imbalance of work and wealth in the fashion industry, or watch some of the award-nominated documentaries focusing on Syria.