Starring: Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, David Mitchell
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Running Time: 104 mins
Greed is a British film about the opulent lifestyle of a high street billionaire, and the extravagant extents to which his wealth takes his life.
An impassioned indictment of the world of the super-rich, Greed delivers biting satire and timely social themes with gusto throughout. It doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head when it comes to providing a fully convincing and insightful assessment of those themes, but its passion and anger are more than enough to provoke a reaction from you.
Using tongue-in-cheek humour, modern satire and allegories to numerous real-world events to great effect, Greed hits the drum hard on the story behind so many headlines we see in the present day. From workers’ rights to tax avoidance, corruption, sexism and more, the film has a lot to say, and doesn’t pull any punches in doing so.
In that, there’s barely a moment when this movie isn’t hitting some element of modern society hard. The story centres on the fictional high street tycoon Richard McCreadie (a little on the nose) as it parodies and criticises the lifestyles of billionaires in the modern day, with particular reference to the controversial real-life billionaire Philip Green.
At the same time, the film gives an impassioned look at the plight of people overseas working on low wages for companies that make billions in profit. Alongside the story’s links to refugee crises in the modern day, that’s the more serious side to this film, and it’s difficult to look past, even if it’s a theme that’s handled in disappointingly one-dimensional fashion.
There’s real emotion and fervour behind the way that this film delivers those themes, but it does little to really go beyond what does at times seem like a rather simplistic look at the realities of sweatshops, outsourcing and cheap overseas labour. It’s a controversial topic that’s rightly being probed by this film, but I felt that it missed the mark in getting to the bottom of a topic that it aims to really rewrite the book on.
Instead, it’s the film’s satire on wealth and opulence that really make the story tick. It’s not quite The Wolf Of Wall Street, never putting you under the spell of its love-or-loathe-him lead billionaire. But, with excellent humour, passionate satire and tongue-in-cheek references to the real world, it’s an energetic and entertaining watch that certainly provokes a reaction.
The performances are great across the board. In the lead role, Steve Coogan clearly puts his all into making McCready as loathsome as possible, while supporting players David Mitchell, Isla Fisher, Sarah Solemani, Sophie Cookson and Dinita Gohil are all excellent as well.
Most interestingly, Gohil plays a supporting character who doesn’t seem to have much of a role in the story until an abrupt twist of fate in the latter stages. It plays into what is frankly a little bit of a disappointing finale, and that’s in part because Gohil’s character doesn’t get the attention she deserves.
Her performance is excellent throughout, and she’s arguably one of the most emotionally genuine people on screen, but her character seems such a small presence throughout that the arc she ultimately takes on lacks the emotional punch the film tries to give it in the closing stages. And as a result, it makes what could have been a brilliant finale feel like a little bit of a damp squib.
Saying that, however, I was still entertained and engrossed by Greed throughout. It’s not a perfect film by any means, and misses the mark on its main themes, as well as delivering a consistent and fully convincing story throughout.
But with enormous passion at every moment, as well as energy and humour across the board in the form of great satire and excellent performances, it’s a captivating and effective conglomeration of modern news events into one story. And that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.