Left It On The Table: Our Review of ‘Greed’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 06, 2020
Left It On The Table: Our Review of ‘Greed’

With money comes power…and what’s that old saying about absolute power?

There’s no question that Greed is a movie for the modern age but in a satire that really could have cut to the quick, we get something that feels a little too safe as it could have gone for the jugular but only inflicts the equivalent of a non-lethal flesh wound.

Self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie’s (Steve Coogan) retail empire is in crisis. For 30 years he has ruled the world of retail fashion – bringing the high street to the catwalk and the catwalk to the high street – but after a damaging public inquiry, his image is tarnished. To save his reputation, he decides to bounce back with a highly publicized and extravagant party celebrating his 60th birthday on the Greek island of Mykonos.

As frequent collaborator’s Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan grace us again with their presence with Greed we certainly get a cutting and disgusting look at the 1% in all of their decadent nonsense.  However, it all plays in a scattershot fashion you can’t help but get a little angry as some genuine messaging and statements could have been made inside some cutting and poignant humor get dulled down into some amusing but easy comedy.

There’s potential in the material to be sure, but Writer/Director Michael Winterbottom seems a little too concerned in giving us the whole picture of this character in Sir Richard McCreadie that we just didn’t need.  He establishes pretty quickly that we’re dealing with a rich delusional asshole here but insists on giving him a detailed back story that felt like padding more than anything else.

It’s a funny film, we can’t say that it isn’t as everyone involved is game for the material but Winterbottom has crafted a narrative that is surprisingly one dimensional and while it isn’t without the occasional charm that carries us through, it’s also a little too flat way as it misses the mark set by some of this duos previously collaborations.

It goes without saying that we’d watch Steve Coogan read the phone book and this film is no exception.  Here as our pompous billionaire he really encapsulates the shallow need for acceptance that we see in pop culture out of so many of the rich who have turned their financial assets in a way to become celebrities.  It’s a practice worth making fun of and we get some laughs while appreciating that it’s truly sad all at the same time.

The consistently underrated Isla Fisher is brilliant as the ex-wife business partner that makes up this character duo so well.  I only wish she’d get more work on her own as she certainly doesn’t need the likes of Coogan to carry any kind of work load in this one.  In the pantheon of on screen funny people, both Coogan and Fisher consistently hit above their weight class.

Sadly the rest of the film doesn’t have as many equally funny or even compelling characters.  Asa Butterfield gets a couple of moments as the oft neglected son of Sir Richard while Shirley Henderson as Sir Richard’s mother gets the occasional scowl while David Mitchell as Sir Richard’s put upon biographer has to stand around, shrug and go along with it all.  Ultimately the film centers a little too much on Coogan’s character as the supporting players needed a little more love to really make this work.

Sometimes just getting to watch Steve Coogan riff for 100 or so minutes would be enough, but here in Greed it actually falls a little short of the mark because from minute one you can’t shake the potential of the truly biting comedy and social commentary that Winterbottom left on the table.  It’s fun, but it could have been epic.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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