Thursday, October 10, 2019

GREED - BFI London Film Festival 2019 - Day Eight

GREED is a witty satire undone by heavy-handed politics and a Chekhov's Lion last act twist that is so obvious and absurd it can only be described as a Marxist masturbatory fantasy. It's a movie whose politics were perfectly in keeping with the anti-capitalist Millenarian rabble up the road on Trafalgar Square, with a similar level of intelligence and nuance. I didn't learn anything about Phillip Green and his ilk that I - and anyone else who reads a newspaper - didn't already know. And I didn't need a lecture on fast fashion at the end of the film. I also didn't need a very reductive version of how fast fashion exploits workers.  Those seeking a more nuanced view of what those jobs are worth to Asian women, and how they are empowering themselves, should watch MADE IN BANGLADESH instead.

That said, if, and it's a big if, you can ignore the final fifteen minutes of this film and Winerbottom's unsubtle politics, there's a lot to like about GREED.  Steve Coogan is very good as a preening narcissist. To use a line from the film, "but you're playing yourself, so it doesn't need to be method." Shirley Henderson is absolutely class as the mogul's Irish mother, both as a young woman and as a grandma.  There's something very convincing about her tirade at the priggish public school headmaster patronising the Irish immigrant. And some of that immigrant drives ring true to my family's desire to make good. Ambition is different/fiercer/stronger when you've been locked out and kicked down. But it's David Mitchell as the biographer writing McCreadie's life story who gets all the best lines, and one wonders how much of that was written by Winterbottom or ad-libbed by Mitchell. I also really liked a sub-plot about McCreadie's feckless daughter filming a reality show, with real-life reality star Ollie Locke. There's some really great social commentary here. Shame it gets so obvious when it comes to its immigrant and anti-capitalist politics. 

GREED has a running time of 100 minutes.  It played Toronto and London 2019 and will be released in the UK on February 21st 2020.

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