'Greed' tries to be everything to everyone – and fails
FILM REVIEW: GREED (15), THE LIGHT CINEMA, WISBECH, OUT NOW.
STARS: STEVE COOGAN, DAVID MITCHELL, ISLA FISHER AND ASA BUTTERFIELD.
RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 44 MINS, DIRECTOR: MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM
This movie is trying to be all things to all people and ends up failing on all fronts.
It’s gathered together a who’s who of British comedy but isn’t funny. It’s obviously based on the life of retail billionaire Philip Green but portrays him only in comic mode, and it is trying to send out a strong message about where our clothes comes from, but fails until the closing credits.
To add to the confusion, there’s even a posthumous cameo from Caroline Flack, although the film makers must be credited with last minute editing to dedicate the film to her memory.
Greed (one letter different from Green, geddit?!) tells the story of self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie, whose empire is in crisis. For 30 years he has ruled the world of retail fashion but after a damaging public inquiry, his image is tarnished. To save his reputation, he decides to bounce back with a highly publicised and extravagant party celebrating his 60th birthday on the Greek island of Mykonos.
But his star guests are turning him down one by one and a group of Syrian refugees have sheltered on the beach where the party is to be held. Their presence is as subtle as a sledgehammer in showing how vile McCreadie is and segues us to his treatment of slave labour in Sri Lanka, where many of his clothes are made.
But Coogan doesn’t know whether to play this character as the tyrant he clearly is or ham it up for laughs - he settles for some way in between and it just doesn’t work.
Most of the best lines are reserved for McCreadie’s bumbling biographer Nick, played by David Mitchell, although he is basically reprising his role as bumbling Mark from TV’s Peep Show. There’s cameos from Stephen Fry and Charlie Cooper (This Country), Chris Martin and Louis Walsh, but they really add nothing.
At one stage during the party I thought McCreadie’s son Finn, played quite menacingly by Asa Butterfield, was going to kill him, but when he did meet his end it again lacked subtlety, a Sri Lankan employee, dressed as a slave, partly to blame for his demise.
As the credits rolled, we were shown some startling statistics about slave labour in Sri Lanka, and I can't help but think this is the route the film should have taken.
More by this authorJeremy Ransome