9th October 2019 9.00pm at Odeon Leicester Square
9th October 2019 8.15pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
10th October 2019 11.45am at Embankment Garden Cinema
Michael Winterbottom’s latest film will make you think twice next time you pick up a T-shirt from H&M. Greed is a satire that addresses our consumerist disassociation, that toxic sense of detachment that allows us to give our money to the rich without ever looking down the production line.
The film follows Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, a billionaire who has built up his high street fashion empire through dodgy dealings and ruthless management. Despite being investigated for fraud, the mogul has decided to throw all his money into an opulent 60th birthday bash on the Greek Island of Mykonos. Here, we meet his entourage, from his biographer (David Mitchell) and long-suffering lackeys (Tim Key and Sarah Solemani) to his morally bankrupt mother (Shirley Henderson) and blissfully oblivious wife (Isla Fisher). But one member of staff (Dinita Gohil) is troubled by the roots of McCreadie’s material wealth and the hands that have stitched his fortune.
Steve Coogan is the perfect cartoon caricature, an embodiment of capitalist glut in all its smug-faced glory. The man behind Alan Partridge excels yet again in a similarly odious fashion, his ridiculously white teeth (an ingenious bit of makeup) outshone only by his opinion of himself. Mitchell is wonderfully pathetic as a journalist who fails to speak out about the truth, while Asa Butterfield broods ominously in indulgent Shakespearean fashion. The whole cast sprinkles their own bit of vice and folly into this nauseatingly opulent tableau, exposing the many levels of wilful ignorance that allow exploitation to flourish. Having said this, the sheer number of characters does create more of an impression than a lasting impact – nothing lands quite as hard as it should.
This could be due in small part to the fact that the studios allegedly cut some of the screenplay’s sharper jabs (perhaps more pertinently aimed at celebrities). Even so, the film competently – if not spectacularly – deconstructs the mega-rich, with references to Gladiator drawing parallels to an empire built on slavery, run on the whims of one man. Satire is woven into every shot: a reconstructed amphitheatre complete with a lion depicts the flimsy harvest reaped from McCreadie’s hubris. We are taken from the shining gold crowns and lavish hotel rooms of kings to the tents of refugees and the dark factories of Sri Lankan workers, forced to face both disturbing extremes.
Greed does an admirable job of exposing the wage slavery which we, as everyday consumers, sustain. However, it needs a little more pathos and a little more punch in order to really hit us where it hurts.
Greed is released in select cinemas on 21st February 2020.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch a clip from Greed here: